Sandbags, round-the-clock work keeping water at bay in St. James

Sandbags, round-the-clock work keeping water at bay in St. James

ST. JAMES PARISH, LA (WVUE) - St. James on Thursday was a parish with a purpose.

Every day for nearly a week, people have formed human chains around houses in Gramercy and Paulina, helping out around the clock in the low-lying areas where homeowners need it most.

"Can't let this house go under. It's my daddy's house. We're going to do what we have to do to keep it dry. We've got enough people. We shift work it just like a regular job, shift work. We've got a shift and all taking naps right now. Soon as they come back, we're going to take naps," said Gramercy Joe Darr.

And with drone video given to us by resident Drew Landry, you can see the houses spared. The rising Blind River surrounded dozens of homes, making them an island tucked behind a wall of sandbags. The only problem is, there's no exact end in sight and no way to predict when the water will reach its peak.

"Preparing for the worst. We woke up this morning and the water was higher was higher than it was yesterday. It's almost at the same level as (Hurricane) Isaac for us. I live here. But we've been really struggling the last three days to prepare for everything," said Grand Point Jennifer St. Pierre.

And as the water creeps in, so does the wildlife. Residents called St. James animal control to capture a huge alligator that was swimming dangerously close to homes.

But for residents, it's still the rushing water that frightens them the most. As water seeps through sandbags and barricades, pumps are a necessity to keep the water at bay.

"The water started to come up yesterday and they had about three or four breaches in it. They tried last night all night long pumps ran to keep the water out and just a few minutes ago they just rebuilt the whole wall well not the whole wall but parts of it that were leaking. So hopefully it will hold if we get higher water," said Grand Point resident Amy St. Pierre.

Higher water is what many expected after the swollen Amite River pushed flood waters through areas north of St James Parish. But as night fell Thursday, the water's rise had slowed, providing the hundred tucked behind man-made barriers a much-needed glimmer of hope going forward.

"We don't know what's coming," said Jenneifer St. Pierre. "We don't know if this is the end or if there's more to come, and all we can do is just prepare."

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