Hundreds ordered to evacuate after flood barriers fail in Louisiana parish


(BATON ROUGE, L.A.) -- Hundreds of homes are under mandatory evacuation after flood barriers were breached Friday morning in a rural southeastern Louisiana parish outside of Baton Rouge.

An artificial dam system set up along Louisiana Highway 75 in Iberville Parish to hold back floodwaters from the Intracoastal Waterway failed around 10 a.m. local time Friday, authorities said.

Around 500 homes -- including close to 1,000 people -- in the Bayou Sorrel and Bayou Pigeon areas were ordered to evacuate as the highway flooded. The highway closed due to high water and flooding.

The National Weather Service is warning of life-threatening flash flooding, and a flash flood watch is in effect in the area until 5:45 p.m. local time.

Concrete barriers were placed at the site of the breach, and after several hours of what was expected to be continuous flooding, it was stopped, Iberville Parish Emergency Preparedness OEP Director Clint Moore told ABC News before 5 p.m. local time.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development helped reinstall the flood barriers, spokesperson Rodney Mallett told ABC News.

Residents were advised to evacuate to a Red Cross shelter at the civic center in Plaquemine, a city in the parish. Large animals needing to be evacuated from flooded areas could also be brought to a multi-use facility in Plaquemine.

Over a dozen State Fire Marshal deputies were on the ground in the Bayou Pigeon area helping residents evacuate via boats and a high-water vehicle "as high water threatens homes," the office said.

Many residents stayed in the area to help put sandbags together to stop the breach, Moore said.

It is unclear when it will be safe for all residents to return. There are no known deaths or injuries at this time, Moore said.

The flooding comes after the Baton Rouge area was inundated with more than 13 inches of rain in under 24 hours earlier this week. In the days since, residents in parishes in the region have had to contend with flooded roads.

The use of the artificial flood barriers, known as AquaDams, has been contentious in the Baton Rouge area, according to The Advocate, as some local officials have argued the inflatable dams pose a flood risk to homes in East Baton Rouge.



Friday, May 21, 2021 at 7:35PM by Meredith Deliso and Rachel Katz, ABC News Permalink