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New completion date to be announced for Comite River Diversion Project in coming weeks

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BATON ROUGE- Elected officials told WBRZ on New Year's Day that a new completion date would be announced in the coming weeks as to when the Comite River Diversion Project would finish.

It was supposed to be complete by the end of 2021, and officials have stopped short of saying whether that will still happen. Elected leaders said things are progressing well, but there are still some ongoing negotiations with Florida Gas and some plan revisions are being made. A revised schedule and completion date will be announced in the coming weeks, according to State Representative Valarie Hodges.

Clovie and Paula Strickland live a stone's throw from where construction is happening. They've called the area home since the 1970s.

"I'm not really sure it will help us any because of where we are located to the north of it," Strickland said.

Her husband said initially they were against the plan, but know it could help many people in the area once finished.

"My concern is one that they won't complete it on time, and I haven't seen a lot of progress knowing what they have to do," Clovie Strickland said. "Maybe they can accelerate the work schedule and get it done."

During the August 2016 floods, the Stricklands said rescue teams were launching boats from the foot of their driveway. They said their property is at an 88-foot elevation, and they have never seen the water come up that high.

Down the street from where they live, Eric McMichael said relief needs to come as soon as possible. He said during heavy rain events many people get stuck for days.

"Some people get nervous," McMichael said. "You can't go nowhere there be so much water."

The Comite River Diversion Project was talked about in the '80s, but securing the funding and making it a reality came after the 2016 floods. Elected officials estimate that if the flood control structure was in place at the time of the flood, levels could have been reduced by three feet in some areas.

"That's all we waiting on is to stop the flooding," McMichael said.

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