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Emergency repairs to an earthen levee that separates much of the town from floodwaters from the rising Mermentau River are holding up, Lake Arthur Mayor Robbie Bertrand said Tuesday. (Doris Maricle / American Press)<br>

Emergency repairs to an earthen levee that separates much of the town from floodwaters from the rising Mermentau River are holding up, Lake Arthur Mayor Robbie Bertrand said Tuesday. (Doris Maricle / American Press)

Repairs to levee holding back water in Lake Arthur

Last Modified: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 11:07 AM

By Doris Maricle / American Press

LAKE ARTHUR — Emergency repairs to an earthen levee that separates much of the town from floodwaters from the rising Mermentau River are holding up, Mayor Robbie Bertrand said Tuesday.

“We are still keeping water at bay,” he said. “It came up almost an inch and three-quarters last night, but so far we haven’t lost any levees yet. There’s still a lot of flooding on the lakefront and along Pleasant Street, but no levees have failed.”

Massive amounts of water from the Mermentau River continue to creep closer to the top of the levee system, flooding streets, surrounding homes and sending canals over their banks.

Lake Arthur elementary and high schools will be closed again today due to the flooding conditions.

“My concern continues to be the projected rise that NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the National Weather Service are predicting for the Mermentau River and whether we are going to see that same correlation of rise here,” Bertrand said.

The Mermentau River was at 10.42 feet at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday and was expected to crest at 11 feet today and remain at that level for several days, according to the weather service.

Crews from the Broadmore Gravity Drainage District and town and volunteers have worked since Sunday to shore up potential weak spots in the levee with sandbags, plastic sheeting and piles of dirt.

Much of their focus has been on an area in the central part of town near the shrimp boat canal on New Orleans Avenue where floodwaters threaten to overtop several areas around the levee, threatening nearby homes and businesses.

“We’ve added some more layers to the levee where we could, so maybe we will have a little slack,” Bertrand said. “Now it’s just a wait and see how high the water is going to get.”

Town officials met with the Army Corps of Engineers and representatives of the governor’s office Tuesday to evaluate the levee system.

Bertrand said the goal is to get as much water as possible out of the Mermentau River basin and into the Gulf of Mexico.

“They are telling me that all the available cuts and lock structures are wide open and water is being released at its maximum rate to get the water out along the Mermentau Region,” he said.

The town also planned to continue to run its pumps overnight to help move some of the water out of the area.

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