SLIDELL, La. — What was once a nearly $200,000 home in Slidell is now potentially worth nothing.
The home appears to be sinking into a canal, and the homeowners say it’s because of a new culvert built by the parish.
"It was when we had a lot of rain back to back, after the first rain we had the gate that opened up," homeowner Vanessa Shaffette said.
Shaffette describes what's been happening to her property at the end of Michigan Avenue as horrific. Her house is sinking into the W-14 Canal.
"After the last rain event, we came out and essentially there was this far of a gap of where our land had pulled away,” she said.
In the home there are cracks in the walls, the floor is sloping and she says it's too dangerous to live inside.
Shaffette thinks it's because of a new culvert near Gause Boulevard behind her home, explaining it causes water to rush down faster in the canal knocking down trees and washing away dirt under the foundation during a storm.
"First off, I really didn't know how they were changing the water, but I never would have thought that water would have changed and make a new way for itself,” she said.
The Shaffettes bought the home in 2010 before the culvert was finished. After they discovered the problems, they hired Branch Construction Consultants to investigate, and they told Eyewitness News the way an existing culvert narrows into the new culvert turns the canal into a high-powered hose every time it rains heavily.
"And they're trying to say it's our fault,” she said.
The family has now hit St. Tammany Parish and the City of Slidell with a lawsuit to pay for damaging their property. A St. Tammany Parish spokesperson says they can't explain their side of what's happening because of the pending lawsuit.
However, Director of St. Tammany Parish's Department of Public Information, Ronnie Simpson, said workers went to the property to take down trees but were denied access.
"As we litigate our differences in court, we have also offered to work with the City of Slidell to remove several trees in that area as an emergency measure, but was denied access to the property to accomplish that task," Simpson said.
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Others along the canal say local officials have talked to them about a possible widening of the canal, but they're not sure what the status is of the project.
"I've spoken to especially one of them over there they've started to have divets," Shaffette said.
Now, she waits for a July court hearing, and questions what will happen if another neighbor's property starts sinking too.
"One of the worries is the flooding," a neighbor said.