AMELIA, La. -- The town of Amelia lies just west of Morgan City, but the 2500 residents live outside the levee system. The area’s councilman is furious that he submitted plans to protect residents last week, but said he had to wait days for help to arrive.
“We went five days with no materials, not even sandbags or sand for the citizens out here,” said Chuck Walters, a St. Mary Parish councilman. “But once again, we’ll channel this into something positive, and hopefully the lord is going to be with us to keep the water levels down.”
His concern is residents like 89-year-old Lorena Aucoin, who remembers the 1973 flood here and wonders if this time it will be worse.
“When the water hits my floor right here, that water is going to be up to the road, because my trailer is high,” said Lorena Aucoin, Amelia resident. “But I’m just gonna leave.”
Aucoin is glad to see the Hesco basket levee now being built by National Guard teams working 24 hours a day. So are area leaders, but they say they still face the challenge of completing 22,000 feet of levee, so they are still ready for evacuations if they are necessary.
“I think we can get it protected in time. We just don’t have any clue on what the elevation of the water’s gonna be. I think we can protect up to a plus 5. After that, we’re probably in trouble,” said Gary Duhon, a St. Mary Parish councilman. “I am worried.”
“Trust me, we’re doing everything we can. We’re working 24 hours a day to make sure this happens. But at some point during the weekend if I feel we cannot get to the point to where we need to be then we’re just going to have to move some of the elderly people, some of the low-lying people. They’re going to have to move,” Walters said.
Gov. Bobby Jindal came to Morgan City to see the progress on the line of Hesco baskets being set up by the National Guard to raise the area’s lowest lying levees to provide extra protection, and he expressed dismay that the Army Corps of Engineers will not give residents concrete information about opening the Morganza Spillway.
“So the important thing for our people is not to wait. It’d be great if they’d go ahead and give us that official notification. Go ahead and tell us that the decision is coming on this day,” Jindal said. “If they’re not going to do it, we’ve just got to be ready. We’ve got to get our people ready. What I don’t want people do is waiting. Now is the time for them to think about their evacuation plans – what medication, what documents, what valuables they want to bring.”
“The message I’m giving them, first and foremost, is be sure to have a plan. If something goes wrong, what are you going to do? And we want them to go through that process,” said Morgan City Mayor Kim Matte. “If we’re successful in what we do, we think we can protect everybody.”