ASSUMPTION PARISH, LA (WVUE) - For the first time since 2012, the mandatory evacuation around the 25 acre sinkhole in Assumption Parish's Bayou Corne is reduced to a voluntary evacuation for some of the 350 people affected.
However, the news may be too late to save the community
Nearby where Assumption Parish Emergency Manager John Boudreaux captured cell phone video of trees sinking into the abyss, residents have been waiting two and a half years for good news.
"This is an unprecedented incident," Boudreaux explained. "It has never happened in the world's history. So, the unfortunate part is there's no book you can open and see how it plays out. The book is being written now with this incident."
With a salt dome breached beneath the earth, the swallowing sinkhole and bubbling natural gas threatened 350 people. Many homes are now equipped with monitors made to warn of gas that may seep into homes through the ground, which were paid for by the company Texas Brine.
"It would accumulate inside a home, and there's no smell to it. You wouldn't know it was there, and if it would accumulate enough of it and it find an ignition source then it could create a fire or explosion," Boudreaux said.
Now, for the first time, Boudreaux said Texas Brine believes two of the 159 affected homes may be safe. An investigation is still ongoing, but he said the company says certain wells aren't showing any signs of gas anymore.
"The gas not being present in the area would be that tipping point to show that it's truly depleted and no one is at risk," Boudreaux said.
In other areas, Boudreaux said wells are still venting 17,0000 cubic feet of gas a day, and most residents aren't hanging around to find out when the gas will be depleted.
"The community is starting to become a ghost town," Boudreaux said.
Over the past few weeks, class action suit settlement money has been coming in as Texas Brine buys up affected homes. Dennis Landry, who stayed through the mandatory evacuation, said his street will be occupied by only nine families.
"I made my decision. I'm willing to take my chances here and stay, and I'm here to stay for good," Landry said.
His neighborhood will be a shell of what it was just two and a half years ago.
"I sure hate to see those neighbors leave and those homes destroyed," Landry said. "From everything we've heard there's a very good chance Texas Brine may decide to tear them down."