Last Modified: Friday, January 18, 2013 1:19 PM
Doris Maricle // American Press firstname.lastname@example.org
LAKE ARTHUR — The immediate threat of a levee failure in Lake Arthur appears to have passed, but flooding will continue for several more days, Mayor Robbie Bertrand said Wednesday.
“The water levels are still at critical heights, and we are nowhere close to being out of the woods,” Bertrand said. “We are still in a critical situation with the levee. I feel more confident about it, but I am not ready to claim victory yet.”
Conditions appeared to be improving late Wednesday with skies clearing, but water levels remain high, Bertrand said.
Lake Arthur schools were scheduled to reopen today after being closed for four days.
Wednesday was Bertrand’s birthday.
“The very best birthday present I could receive is that the weather clears and waters begin to go down,” he said. “We’re hoping for sunshine and more clearing tomorrow.”
The Mermentau River was at 10.24 feet as of 3:15 p.m. Wednesday. It is expected to crest at 10.3 feet and remain at that level through Friday, before beginning a slow decline, according to the National Weather Service.
La. 26 between Lake Arthur and Jennings remained closed in both directions Wednesday due to high water over the road.
Officials were still keeping a close eye on a critical levee along the shrimp boat canal on New Orleans Avenue, where workers have stacked sandbags and piles of dirt in an effort to hold back the rising water.
“The levee is still at bay with a 3-inch clearance, so I am feeling much better about it,” Bertrand said.
No increase was reported in water levels overnight, he said.
Bertrand said residents who have relocated because of rising waters should plan to stay away another day to give conditions time to improve.
Water is still high in some areas, including the east part of town and the lakefront, where several streets remain impassable and homes are surrounded by water.
When the floodwaters recede to the height of the levees, the town will begin pumping aggressively to clear streets and property, but that could still be days away, Bertrand said.
Once floodwaters recede, there will also be a lot of cleanup to do, he said. Floodwaters have washed a lot of litter, seaweed, logs and other debris into yards, ditches and streets.
A 10 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew remains in place because several streets are still flooded, Bertrand said.
Authorities have feared levee failures throughout town following nearly a week of heavy rain.