Iberville Parish President ready to go to war with EBR about flooding concerns
PLAQUEMINE- Iberville Parish President Mitch Ourso is doubling down on his decision to purchase aqua dams that would protect parts of Iberville and Ascension Parishes if there is another flood similar to the one in August of 2016.
"I really don't want no war with EBR parish, but I'm not scared to go to war," Ourso said.
Tonight, East Baton Rouge Parish is currently analyzing the impact of the aqua dams and what effect it would have on its parish. The purpose of those dams is to hold water back and prevent it from impacting areas in the Spanish Lake Basin near St. Gabriel. They were purchased soon after the August 2016 flood, when water from East Baton Rouge Parish spilled over Manchac Road into the Spanish Lake Basin and sat there for weeks.
Engineer Thomas David was hired by Iberville Parish and has been studying the aqua dams impacts on the area.
"We think we have a reasonable protection plan," David said. "We don't think it will put anyone at a threat, if they designed to the 100-year base flood elevation."
Fred Raiford is in charge of East Baton Rouge Parish's transportation and drainage. He says the parish is currently in the middle of doing its own analysis.
"University Club has expressed concern about the backup water," Raiford said. "We've had calls from Santa Maria because it went down through that area and the Country Club of Louisiana, also expressed concerns."
Ourso said he's shocked residents in those subdivisions would be concerned now. He says when those subdivisions were built, no one consulted with Iberville or Ascension Parishes to see what the drainage impacts would be on them.
"What did they do in the last 15 years in the development process, developing the U Club, and Lexington Estates," Ourso said. "Did they come to Ascension and Iberville and say what impact is all this drainage that we are going to send down to you, do you have any feelings? No no... let's just send it down to them."
Raiford said the impact of the aqua dam is not immediately clear. But, many residents who got close to flooding in August of 2016 in areas along Bayou Manchac are worried the aqua dam will cause them to flood.
"If we need to take legal action we will," Raiford said.
But tonight, there's tough talk from both parishes, with no signs of an agreement being hashed out.
"I done drew a line in the sand," Ourso said. "The aqua dams are coming up unless there are three or four helicopters coming to handcuff me. When I'm putting them in the aqua dams are coming up. I won't be hard to find. I'll be right there on site whenever I need to deploy them....six foot three...310 pounds... too big to hide and too fat to run. I'll be right there."
Currently, the aqua dams are being stored in St. Gabriel and cost Iberville about a quarter of a million dollars to deploy.
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