A Louisiana farming community built for evacuees of Hurricane Katrina has become a shelter for families driven by river flooding.
Twenty-six families have moved into the enclave known as Canadaville. The farming community had a population of around 200 hurricane-residents, but it had decreased to just a handful by the time people from nearby towns started searching a place due to floods.
“I can understand what they’re going through because I’ve been through it myself,” Tonya Nelson, one of the Katrina evacuees said.
Heavy spring rains and melting snow have swollen the Mississippi River. The Army Corps of Engineers opened key Morganza Spillway, to take pressure off levees which is surrounded by New Orleans and Baton Rouge, choosing to flood more rural areas with fewer homes.
Hurricane-displaced families could live rent-free in Magnaville, which was created by the head of Canadian auto parts maker Magna International a few months after Katrina.
Simmesport is well above the Morganza Spillway. The spillway opening has resulted flooding in the town, said Joseph Suhayda, a retired LSU engineering professor.
As Simmesport Mayor Eric Rusk realized that the water level would rise above flood stage, he requested Magna Industries to provide some vacant houses to evacuees.
“Flood victims can live there for 60 days rent-free as long as they pay their utilities,” Rusk said.
Residents were given the evacuation order over the weekend, though water hadn’t yet reached their doorsteps. Most of the residents have heeded the call, said one official.