In his monthly report to the Parish Council on Tuesday, Cormier said events have conspired to lessen the effect of the worst flood since 1973 if not 1929.
For one thing, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is revising downward the maximum heights expected on the Atchafalaya River -- from 29 feet to 27 feet at Butte La Rose and from 13 feet to 11 feet at Morgan City.
And the gush of water expected from the open gates at Morganza has yet to arrive.
“We were expecting a significant rise in 36 hours (of the Saturday opening),” he said. “We are now past 72 hours and while the river is certainly high, it is not as bad as we anticipated.”
Factors that could have mitigated the flooding in the Atchafalaya Basin include a northerly wind, which hastens the diversion of Mississippi floodwater through the Bonne Carre Spillway into Lake Ponchartrain, and the fact that Louisiana is in a drought.
“I’m not saying the water’s not coming, but I think some of it was soaked up by the dry ground,” said Cormier, who has been shuttling over 100 miles daily between Butte La Rose and the Stephensville-Belle River area, the two settled areas in St. Martin’s flood alley.
Cormier praised Coach Carroll Delahoussaye, whose District 1 includes lower St. Martin, for his leadership and active participation in helping that flood-prone area prepare for this historic event. Delahoussaye turned his heartfelt praise back at the parish workers and the St. Martin Sheriff’s Office for their tireless efforts in securing life and property in that remort part of the parish.
Parish Council Chairman Dean Dore extended his kudos to the other members and other citizens who have been supportive of the two members most affected, Delahoussaye and Lloyd “Red” Higginbotham.
Cormier said a temporary dam hastily constructed to prevent backwater flooding in the Stephensville area might turn into a permanent solution to that area’s persistent flooding problems.
“We’re hoping the Corps will let us keep some of that infrastructure in place so that we can use it during the annual spring floods,” he said.
Between Butte La Rose, Belle River and Stephensville, citizens and parish workers have placed 450,000 sandbags, Cormier said.