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Draft report from federal engineers suggests almost 3,000 homes in Amite River basin may need to be elevated

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A draft report released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Friday offered a non-structured plan for the voluntary elevation of almost 3,000 homes in the Amite River watershed, including several areas in the capital region. 

The report suggests that 3,300 structures in the watershed may need to be elevated or made floodproof voluntarily by their owners, with 2,900 of those structures being residential areas. 

Incoming Parish President Randy Delatte disagrees with this draft. Delatte said that it's ridiculous and they're "totally against it." He went on to say "they know nobody's going to participate."

After talking with homeowners on both sides of the river, their biggest concern was the cost.

The homeowners believe it's going to cost too much money for a project that won't solve anything. They said a better idea would be to buy out homes from residents and turn those neighborhoods into greenfield projects. This way, heavy flood areas can use green infrastructure practices to absorb rainfall and prevent water from overwhelming pipe networks and flooding in streets and basements.

Louisiana State Representative Valarie Hodges also expressed concerns and doubts for the plan.

"The corps scrapping the biggest project in this region to stop flooding is beyond belief," Hodges said. "It’s outrageous to think elevating 3,300 homes will solve the problem of a catastrophic flood like 2016."

Hodges said she contacted members of Congress to ensure a solution, and she expressed that a dam, levee or weirs needed to be built to prevent a flood like the 2016 flood from happening again.

"This is the reason I passed legislation asking DOTD to develop a weir system in the northern part of St. Helena -- the river basin," Hodges said. "I had money allocated for the weir system that we must have in order to have flood protection."

The report is a draft of a recommendation stemming from a study initiated in 2018 to evaluate the impact of the 2016 flooding. For a quick fact sheet regarding the study, click here

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold meetings for public and shareholder feedback in January of 2024. Written comments on the draft's feasibility will also be accepted through the end of January and can be sent to the Corps. 

The proposal would also eliminate plans for the Darlington dam and reservoir to be built along the Amite River south of LA-10 at the St. Helena-East Feliciana Parish line. The plans for the dam and other flood control measures were proposed in a 1967 report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

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