Flood waters threaten to top the shrimp boat canal levee as one of the town’s six pumps works furiously to drain the flood waters. Officials fear a breach in this levee would be catastrophic for the town. (Doris Maricle)
Last Modified: Monday, January 14, 2013 2:17 PM
LAKE ARTHUR — The rising Mermentau River sent flood waters over the levees along the lakefront early Sunday making some downtown areas impassable.
Mayor Robbie Bertrand said several homes in low-lying areas were surrounded by water, but no water was reported inside the homes as of mid-afternoon Sunday.
“We had about two inches of water come over the top of the levee in a number of spots, which sent two feet of water on the roads,” Bertrand said.
The breach was reported around 1:30 a.m. as south winds blew the water in, topping the levee, he said.
Officials are still concerned about a levee along the shrimp boat canal that is within inches of going over.
“If the levee at the shrimp boat canal fails it will be terrible for the entire town,” Bertrand said.
Town crews and volunteers worked late Saturday into Sunday placing plastic sheeting and sandbags to reinforce the levee.
Officials were also closely monitoring low areas on the east side of town near McClure Street. The area does not have levees or pumps.
“That is one area of town with no pumps, but we are working with the drainage district to pursue a potential flood structure for the east side of town,” he said.
Additional rainfall fell Sunday, but a north wind was expected to help push some of the water down river away from the affected area, Bertrand said.
“It’s still touch and go for us, but if we can just get three to four inches out of here it will help tremendously,” he said.
The Mermentau River was at 9.98 feet at 1 p.m. Sunday and is expected to crest at 10.1 feet today and remain at that level several days, according to the National Weather Service.
The record flood stage for the Mermentau River was 14.5 in August 1940.
Authorities have barricaded many streets to keep sightseers out, allowing only residents who live in the area to enter. Several other streets remained closed due to flooding.
A 10 p.m.- 6 a.m. curfew is in place and boat traffic along the Mermentau River has been banned. Both measures will remain in effect until the flood waters recede, Bertrand said.
Self-fill sandbags are still available at the Lake Arthur Police Department.