SIBLEY — With the torrential rains out of the area, residents who live around Lake Bistineau sit and wait for the water to recede.
Many will be displaced for months as they begin to pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives. Marlaina Long-Free, Bistineau resident, says it will be close to two months or longer before residents will be able to begin rebuilding.
“Until the water starts to recede, no one will be able to start the cleanup process,” she said. “The people that were flooded first, that have lakefront property, will be the last to be able to rebuild. And Mother Nature will play a huge factor in cleanup.”
She says with the windy and rainy weather during March and April, it will cause already high water to white cap, causing further destruction. Trees could be uprooted in saturated ground, she added.
“It will be a long process,” she said.
Billy Holland, 67, owner of Port O Bistineau, says he was devastated when his store flooded. It’s flooded before but never to this extent, he said.
“It’s never gotten into my house before and it’s two feet deep right now,” he said. “It’s never been like that. We’ve lost everything in the house and in the store too. We can’t go back home right now because the water is four feet over the road going to my house. The good news is it fell two inches today.”
Holland says he doesn’t know if he will rebuild the store and won’t know until the water recedes and he can assess the damage.
“We got out of there with the clothes on our back and we got our vehicle through the water,” he said. “The good Lord was looking out for us. Now we can’t even get in there.”
Cole Thornton, who lives on Miller Briarwood Road, says although his house didn’t flood, most of those who live on Miller Briarwood did.
“There’s water in both our neighbors’ houses on either side of us and a good majority of the people have water in their houses,” he said. “The lake hasn’t come down much and people still can’t get in or out. Everybody is having to park at the top of the hill and go by boat to their homes.”
Mary Ann Toms, a resident of Horseshoe Loop, says she was devastated when the water overtook her house.
“I was devastated,” she said. “The house was built 37 years ago and has never flooded before. We had the shop built up, so it is good, but the water is still in my house.”
She and her husband have filed a claim with their insurance carrier and applied for federal assistance.
Hydrologist C.S. Ross, with the Shreveport office of the National Weather Service, says based on past floods, it will be at least two weeks or more for Bistineau to reach normal pool levels.
“I would expect very little change to a slow fall,” he says, adding the lake is still cresting at 150.2 feet. “The flood of April 1991 crested at 147.8 and it did not reach conservation pool stage for at least 12 days, but there was another rainfall event on the lake that produced another crest of the lake at 147.3. It will be at least two weeks if not longer.”
Officials are urging those affected by the flood to register their damage with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A team will be at the Courthouse Annext at 8 a.m. in Minden, beginning Tuesday.
Holland says he will be at the door to apply for federal assistance. For now, most have places to stay, but nothing can be done with anything until the water recedes, they say.
“I have to start over now,” he said. “I’m 67 and I’m having to start over. It’s going to be hard to do. All over the lake, a lot of people have lost a lot.”