PIERRE PART — Summer vacation is coming a little early for the kids at Pierre Part Elementary School because of high water in the low-lying section of Assumption Parish, school officials said Monday.
The last day of school for Pierre Part Elementary will be Tuesday. The roughly 550 students at the prekindergarten to eighth-grade school will not have to report Wednesday and Thursday as previously scheduled.
The parish has been in flood fight mode for the past two months as continued high water on the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers has caused backwater flooding in the Lake Verret Basin, the parish's homeland security director said Monday. Pierre Part sits on the edge of that 400,000-acre swamp basin.
In lower St. Martin Parish next-door to Assumption, Parish President Chester Cedars has issued a voluntary evacuation order due to high water and sewerage problems related to the flooding, officials there said.
John Boudreaux, Assumption's homeland security director, said Monday that Pierre Part Elementary is not at risk of flooding but some smaller state highways and parish roads have had floodwater on them for a while, making school bus passage difficult.
An isolated section of La. 70, east of Pierre Part, that is a key route for school bus traffic for high school students from Pierre Part also has had floodwater.
Assumption High School, located along the relatively high banks of Bayou Lafourche in Napoleonville, will continue to operate as scheduled through Thursday and all remaining final exams will be given Tuesday.
Students from the Pierre Part area who can't safely travel to the high school will be excused Wednesday and Thursday.
Bus service will not run in Pierre Part on those days, school officials said in a statement.
School officials in Assumption said in the statement on the system website that they made the closure decisions in coordination with the parish Sheriff's Office and Office of Emergency Preparedness.
Boudreaux said water levels in Assumption, which may not crest until some time after May 30, are approaching the record from the floods of 1973 when the Morganza spillway was opened.
In 2011 and 2016, local officials were able to install and sink a barge at Bayou Chene south of the Verret basin to block backwater flooding from moving north, but that project didn't happen this year because a needed presidential declaration was not made, Boudreaux said.
In March, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that about $75 million in federal money had been set aside to build a permanent flood gate on the bayou in St. Mary Parish.
All other Assumption schools will remain open as scheduled through the end of the year.
Any further updates will be posted on the school system's website and Facebook page.