Corps says Saltwater Barrier flood gates open since May 3 - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Corps says Saltwater Barrier flood gates open since May 3

CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) -

Residents upstream from the Saltwater Barrier often suspect their flooding problems are at least partly due to poor operation of the gates.

However, officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dispute that.

Sonny Mason is a retired operating engineer who's spent much of his life working on projects that help direct the flow of water.  He lives next to Little Indian Bayou and says the area looked like a lake a week ago.  Last two floods he says a sudden current came up.  He questions if it resulted from the gates at the salt water barrier being opened later than they should have been.

"The current increased so fast it's like pulling the stopper in a bath tub.  I was pulling this tank back over my shoulder and the current picked up so fast I didn't think I was going to make it, it was pulling it back so hard,"said Mason.

Mason and others think the Army Corps of Engineers should be more responsive to the public during flooding...

"I started trying to get a hold of the Army Corps of Engineers to see if the locks were open and there was no way to get in touch with them.  probably around midnight I got a hold of somebody in New Orleans who told me to call back Monday,"said Mason.

However a spokesman for the Corps says the gates at the Saltwater Barrier have been open since Wednesday, May 3.

Matt Roe says the gates will stay open until the water upstream is no longer higher than water below the barrier...

"The gates were opened May 3rd at 7 a.m. and during a flood stage they remain open until the river falls back to 2.5 feet. Right now the river is about 3.5 feet, and so  they're still open and the river's falling about an inch a day,"said Roe.

And while citizens may not be able to reach a real person with the Corps 24/7 he believes they are responsive. He says the gates only restore the river to its natural flow.

"The big misconception with structures like that is that it's like pulling a plug in a bathtub and you're letting the water out when, in actuality, it's more like pulling the plug in a bathtub while the faucet's still running.  That water's going to continue to rise as it would through normal runoff,"said Roe.

Roe says public safety is the Corps' number one priority.  During a flood he says the barrier is staffed Sunday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and until midnight on Friday and Saturday.

To check the status of the Saltwater Barrier anytime click here.

Copyright 2017 KPLC All rights reserved

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