U.S. Army Corps disputes Iowa subdivision owner - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

U.S. Army Corps disputes Iowa subdivision owner

IOWA, LA (KPLC) -

The owner of the Iowa Family Housing and Dogwood Place subdivision in Iowa, Larry Hoss, was adamant on Thursday that flooding in the neighborhood was because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had closed the floodgates at the saltwater barrier in Westlake.

However, Corps officials said the gates have been open and that they wouldn't affect Iowa anyway.

For some in the Iowa subdivision, flooding was merely an inconvenience. But for others, who saw water inside their homes, it was disastrous. As people tried to make sense out of why this fairly new housing complex would see so much water -- the owner -- Hoss, expressed confidence he knew the answer. He blamed it on the Corps of Engineers for closing gates at the saltwater barrier.

"I challenge the Corps of Engineers to meet me and let's see if those gates were open or closed last night because it's my understanding they were going to make sure they're manned in a flood incident. Obviously, somebody was asleep at the wheel," Hoss said.

However, Corps officials said the flood gates and navigation gates have been open -- just as they are right now -- since Jan. 1. Charles Hebert is the lockmaster.

"Some people tend to believe these gates have been closed and I'd have to argue with them that we have not closed the gates, and we are not going to close the gates until the water returns to its normal elevation of 2.5," Hebert said.

As well, Hebert said even if the gates had been closed, they would not cause flooding in the Iowa subdivision.

"We're north of the Interstate, they're south, and the water typically drains north to south, I would say the problem over there could be related to the drainage board, a flooded canal, ditches, poor drainage in the area. I'm not sure," Hebert said.

Corps Operating manager, Tracy Falk, in New Orleans, said the same thing.

"The last two nights when they left at 7 p.m., they left the navigation gates open as well as in addition to the five 40' wide by 20' deep tainter gates that are open since January first. In fact, if we did have the tainter gates closed, the ones that would be calling are the people that live on the Calcasieu River north of the structure as the water would be backing up on their property due to this rain event. I can't see how it would impact the Town of Iowa," Falk said.

Hebert said even though they have reduced operating hours, it doesn't mean the gates are closed when no one is there.

"Just because the hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the operator's not on site, that does not mean that the gates are closed. We do keep the gates open 24 hours a day to accommodate flooding situations and that will remain the same indefinitely. We are here to protect the community," Hebert said.

He said they will continue to keep gates open as long as flooding conditions make it necessary. The saltwater barrier is located at the end of Mims Road in Westlake.

Early Friday, the water had not yet reached flood stage there.

Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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