By Brittany Pieper – email
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) – A recent government report shows more could have been done to save those killed in the Albert Pike flash floods.
Candace Smith and Kerri Bassinger each lost their husband and 2 children on June 11th when flood waters swept over the camp. They've always felt more could have been done to warn them, but they say a recent report by the USDA makes them more upset about the response.
"We're glad that the forest service is acknowledging their faults, and we're glad that hopefully this will change things, but we're bitter because there's numerous things that could have been done to prevent what happened," said Smith.
The report found the U.S. Forest Service failed to post warning signs, employees weren't informed about the policies, and they didn't have a plan in place in case of a major flood. It also said volunteer hosts did not receive enough training for emergency situations.
Cell phone service in the area is spotty, so they depend on radio signals, but a radio repeater tower in the area had been broken for 6 months. The Forest Service says they have already fixed this particular problem by adding 2 new radio bases. They also put up new warning signs in the area.
One report finding upset Smith and Basinger the most. The District Ranger at the time ignored warnings against the location and previous flooding history when building Loop D, which is where 17 of the 20 people who died were staying.
"To us, who lost so much, its hard to understand because they knew. They knew what was going on. They knew it was a flood plain. There's a history of flooding there and they ignored all of it," said Smith.
The forest service says they are making lots of changes both at Camp Albert Pike and nationwide because of this flood. One of those changes includes putting in early warning systems. They don't have them up at Albert Pike yet, but the Forest Service is currently looking at options.
"What we really want to make sure is that whatever system we put out there is dependable, reliable, and can weather the outdoor conditions and rugged terrain that is around Albert Pike.
While the report found many problems, it also said even if all of the problems had been corrected, they aren't sure if it would have saved lives because of the huge magnitude of the Albert Pike flash flood.
To read the entire report, click here.