GIBSON, La. (WVUE) - Many homeowners along Bayou Black Drive are already seeing flooding in their yards, less than a week away from the day the Army Corps of Engineers plan to open the Morganza Spillway.
As of Tuesday (May 28), Terrebonne Parish leaders said no homes or business have flooded yet, but along with the Army National Guard, they have started laying flood tubes ahead of the water expected to come when the spillway is open. Still residents said they are growing fearful it may not be enough.
The Morganza spillway is scheduled to open on June 2, and residents in Terrebonne Parish said they’ve been fighting high water levels for months. Parish President Gordy Dove said the flooding is worse than they usually see.
“We have more portable pumps running than in the history of Terrebonne Parish,” Dove said.
Dove said they are pumping upwards of 500 gallons of water a day. But, he said knowing how much water will be coming their way when the spillway opens, they still have work to do.
“When you have the backwater flooding from the Atchafalaya, the water is running south so fast at a high cubic feet-per-second, it does a 180 and comes back towards us. And it comes up what they call the Bayou Chene and the Chachoula Basin, and that’s where we get our flood water from,” Dove said.
That’s why parish crews with the Army National Guard have started deploying another tactic -- fire crews are filling flood tubes and placing them near the southern edge of the Chacahoula Basin.
It will take crews an estimated four days to roll this tube out for over two miles and fill it with water. The goal is to keep homes and businesses from taking on the backwater flooding that they’re already starting to see.
“We’ve fought this before, and we’re constantly building levees in Terrebonne Parish, we’re constantly fighting mother nature down here,” Dove said.
Compared to when the spillway opened in 2011, Dove said they’re more prepared. But, he also said they have no choice but to prepare, as they’re expecting much worse flooding impacts this time around.
“This is a lot worse because we’ve been having backwater flooding since January, so the Atchafalaya basin’s full, it’s got a lot of water. Then, the spillway plains are already wet,” Dove said.
James Stoot lives off of Bayou Black Road and said the water spilling over the road is nothing compared to what’s at his house.
“If I drive my four-wheeler in my back yard, I have two feet of water, if not four,” Stoot said.
He wanted to drive and see what kind of relief the flood tubes may bring, but Stoot said knowing what kind of water is at his house right now, he doesn’t have as much confidence in the tubes.
“It’s not interrupting my day to day, but it’s got snakes and everything else coming out behind my house," he said. “Yeah, it’s not good, but if we get this spillway water it isn’t going to look good down here.”
Dove said these aren’t the only measures they’re taking and they’re also building levees near Bayou Chene. And, he’s encouraging anyone that sees water over the road or anywhere else to call parish government so they can address it as soon as possible.