TERREBONNE PARISH, La. (WVUE) - Crews worked most of the day Sunday (July 14) to shore up levees that overtopped in Terrebone Parish during Tropical Storm Barry the day before.
Parish leaders said while there were some issues, the flood protection system worked.
The first levee to overtop was in Montegut, and as crews were putting the finishing touches to their repairs, the water started coming over another one on the western side of the parish. A steady flow of water from the levee south of the Falgout Canal put lower Dularge in jeopardy and compromised the system with a torrent of water pushed in by Barry.
However, Parish President Gordon Dove said the levees that overtopped were undergoing repairs and none of them breached.
“What happened, is it started overtopping, a levee does two things, it overtops or it breaches, normally when it starts overtopping, it starts breaching after," Dove said. “We were fortunate enough that these were old compacted parish levees that we were rebuilding to Morganza standards and we just hadn’t rebuilt this section yet."
Overnight, crews worked to stem the flow, bringing in truckloads of rocks and dirt, and using heavy equipment to mitigate the levee as water slowly receded into the morning.
While the gushing water was a concern, the work the parish has put into their protection system made things a lot less severe than they could have been, according to Col. Terry Daigre, chief deputy of the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“It bothered us to see it flow over, but we are in a different situation than we were years ago,” Daigre said. “With the lock system in place, it stops the tidal surge that comes up and fills the bayous and overflows the banks. So now, when we do have a levee issue like this, the water is not as high, so the water has a larger area to displace and go into the bayous, instead of going into the homes like it used to.”
Between the larger levees and a newly installed lock system that was just completed last month, parish leaders said they are confident their residents are better protected from a threat like this than ever before.
“We’ve never had nine feet of water where these people haven’t gone under water, I mean this is great day for Terrebonne, that these levees do work,” Dove said.
Daigre said resident who live near in the areas that saw water are used to flooding during storms and what they saw during Barry was an improvement.
“The folks that live down the bayous of lower lying areas and have been through this time and time again know what to expect. They know what they see every time we have a storm," Daigre said. “They saw something different this time.”
And it’s that difference that Dairgre and Dove said give them hope as the height of hurricane season has yet to come.
Terrebonne Parish also started recovery and restoration work Sunday, working to restore power and assisting those who remained in the dark. A food bank will be open to hand out meal packs for those still without power, which will be open on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at 254 Magnolia Street in Houma. For more information, see Terrebonne Parish’s website: www.tpcg.org.