For one community tucked away in a corner of St. Martin Parish, some residents are at risk of losing their homes, and the places they retreat to for peace.
153 feet from the edge of the bank to the edge of the road. What does that mean for the road?
Raywood Lagneaux said it means once the water gets to the road it’s unstoppable.
Lagneaux is one of about a half dozen men who came out to show News 10 why the erosion along the Whiskey Bay Pilot Channel is such an urgent matter.
He says erosion needs to be stopped.
“We’re losing property hand over fist,” Lagneaux said. “I’ve lost in the neighborhood of about 200 feet since I bought my property here in 2001.”
Lagneaux says he first noticed the erosion in 2008 after Hurricane Gustav. “Lost 70 feet in one shot.”
One of the places the men are fighting to preserve is the camp of Mr. Randy Fontenot, and you can see where erosion is already exposing some of the drainage pipes and even the roots of the trees, which many have fallen into the channel already.
“Since 2017, I lost about 75 feet,” Fontenot told News 10.
As the land beneath them continues to erode, a major concern is for Highway 975. The state road serves as one of only two roads connecting Interstate 10 to US-190 between Butte Larose and Ramah; it’s often used as a bypass during crashes on the basin bridge and a hurricane evacuation route.
News 10 reached out to the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), who constructed the Whiskey Bay Pilot Channel back in the 1930s to improve marine traffic; making for a straighter path. But since its inception, erosion has taken a toll on the unprotected banks.
“We are aware of the bank erosion and we’re working through the process right now to address it.” Matt Roe, with the ACOE, told us that engineers have been on-site forming an analysis on how to best protect against further land loss.
“They’re recommending placement of stone revetment on the site to stabilize the bank erosion,” Roe explained.
Stone revetment includes large stones lining the bank. Roe said the ACOE is navigating through the environmental compliance side of the process before the project can begin.
“We’re looking at having our environmental compliance side done later this year and we’ve got it budgeted for next year in 2023 to go ahead and start the project,” Roe said.
“Hopefully they’ll [ACOE] do something before we lose all of this,” Fontenot said.
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