BATCHELOR — Huge mounds of rotting garbage and debris awaiting federal government inspection are lined up along the roadside near camps in the Old River area in northern Pointe Coupee Parish.
The trash has been there since late spring, when the Mississippi River rose to record levels while flooding the oxbow lake and the camps surrounding it, parish officials said this week.
The parish has a contractor on standby ready to haul off the heaps of trash and garbage, but the parish and its contractor can do nothing until the Federal Emergency Management Agency sends a team to inspect the waste materials, officials said.
Parish government received notice that debris removal associated with this spring’s flooding is eligible for a 75 percent reimbursement from FEMA, Bello said.
But without a FEMA inspection, the parish could be on the hook to pay the estimated $60,000 it would cost to separate the materials and truck them away for disposal, Parish Administrator Jim Bello said.
“From past experience, FEMA won’t pay if we move it too fast,” Bello said. “We need them to put eyes on it.”
Much of the debris, which includes tree limbs, household garbage and other materials, was carried to the area by Mississippi River floodwaters discharged through the Morganza Floodway.
Other debris consisting of furniture, pieces of corrugated metal roofing, soggy home insulation and carpeting piled up as people cleaned out their flooded camps and dumped the debris along the roadside, Bello said.
There could be as many as 50 tons or more of garbage and trash awaiting disposal, he said.
“It’s affecting that community,” Bello said. “Not only is it an eyesore, but it’s a potential risk to health and safety.”
Tuesday morning, retirees Noe and Dortha Hernandez stood outside their camp near the banks of Old River.
The Dallas couple said they’ve already washed the 2-inch-deep mud from their driveway and repainted their property, but they are still waiting for something to be done about the trash piled alongside the roadway.
“This is definitely a health hazard,” Dortha Hernandez said. “It’s beginning to smell pretty bad. It’s overwhelming.”