Residents demand answers on brain-eating amoeba at meeting

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wwltv.com

Posted on September 19, 2013 at 10:19 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 19 at 10:27 PM

Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
Email: jkelley@wwltv.com | Twitter: @jkelleyWWL

CHALMETTE, La. -- A week after tests confirmed the presence of a rare amoeba in the water system, frustrated st. Bernard residents demanded answers during a town hall meeting Thursday night.

Instead, residents were left with even more questions after parish officials began pointing fingers at each other.

"We are taking showers, but everything from the neck up we are using bottled water," said life-long Chalmette resident Jamie Doerr.

If you ask St. Bernard residents if they think their water is safe, they will tell you no. Now residents want to know why and what's being done about it.

"I think they are mitigating damages. Honestly it seems like they are lawyered up," said parish resident Brandon Badeaux. "They were unwilling to address the idea that we have been getting notifications in the mail, that there have been problems with our municipal water supply for quite a while."

Parish President David Peralta was under fire as council members drilled him for answers Thursday night.

Parish officials said for at least the next three weeks the parish will continue to flush and treat the water supply with chlorine. It is the elevated levels of chlorine that kill the rare amoeba parasite.

During Thursday's meeting Peralta maintained state officials did not notify the parish about the problem until Sept. 4.

"There was a conversation between one of my employees and an employee with the state agency, and I would characterize it as an almost inadvertent slip by the state employee that there may have been a problem. We knew nothing about it," Peralta said.

"When you've got the public safety and well fair at hand, that's immediate, jump on, get manpower down here and address the problem ASAP," said Councilman Ray Lauga.

"We tried to make inquires at that time to find about what had happened," Peralta said. "We kind of got a suspicion of what was going on, and though only a suspicion, I didn't feel comfortable releasing something. We actually started treating our area immediately."

"Magically this pathogen pops up in our water supply, and we are all suppose to be OK with their explanations," Badeaux said. "I've got to tell you, I am not really OK with it."

Parish officials also attacked the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals specific testing practices. Eyewitness News tried to contact a spokeswoman with the state agency, but were unable to get a response before the start of the newscast.

 

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