St. James Council asks corps to repair gauges

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 20, 2012



VACHERIE – The St. James Parish Council on Wednesday voted in favor of a resolution requesting that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers fund and install an accurate system of real time gauges and storm surge devices for lakes and waterways in the region.

St. James Parish President Timmy Roussel said when Hurricane Gustav struck the region in 2008, the storm knocked out the instruments as well as the bases they were positioned on in Lakes Pontchartrain, Maurepas and Salvador, along with Barataria Bay and Mud Lake. He said the equipment was never repaired following that storm, and the parish is asking the corps to do the work.

Storm surge from the lakes swamped portions of St. James Parish when Hurricane Isaac tore through the region in August, but the surge came in almost three days after the storm passed through the region. Prior to the vote, council members questioned whether the parish had gotten any concrete explanation regarding the late surge of water into the parish. Emergency Preparedness Director Eric DeRoche said the National Weather Service is still conducting an investigation, adding that the agency is still baffled by the flooding.

Councilmembers Alvin St. Pierre, Jason Amato, Terry McCreary, Charles Ketchens, Ken Brass and James Brazan voted in favor of the resolution. Councilman Ralph Patin, who has missed the previous two meetings with an undisclosed illness, was absent from the meeting.

In other action, the council approved a measure to set parishwide Halloween “trick-or-treating” times from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 31. The parish times coincide with Halloween hours set in the towns of Lutcher and Gramercy.

The council also continued an ongoing discussion about the parish mosquito population. DeRoche said mosquito counts were down about 50 percent since aerial spraying was conducted over the entire parish. He said trap counts were back down to what they were prior to Hurricane Isaac. The parish could consider another round of aerial spraying, but the parish would have to completely foot the $65,000 cost for spraying.