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Corps monitors 'slide' in levee near Charenton

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would prefer to see repairs on a 300-foot section of levee near Charenton when the river stage returns to normal. But engineers are monitoring the section where earth slid away from the levee face to see if earlier repairs may be required, a Corps spokesman said Friday.

“We’re not seeing anything that would be a threat to the levee,” said Ricky Boyett, chief of public affairs for the Corps’ New Orleans Division.

The slide showed up in the Corps levee database about the first of this month, Boyett said

The affected section of the West Atchafalaya Basin levee is south of the Charenton flood gate near Charenton Beach Road, said Tim Matte, director of the St. Mary Parish Levee District.

“The top is still flat,” Matte said, “but the face of the levee is what slid. … It’s kind of like the bottom just slid and the rest squatted down.”

That face was on the river side of the levee.

“I suspect it was caused by the [2019] flooding,” Matte said. “It set all kinds of records for the Mississippi-Atchafalaya system.”

The Mississippi River stayed above flood stage in Louisiana for 2011 days, and the Atchafalaya at Morgan City lingered at 2 feet above the 6-foot flood stage. The river topped 10 feet during the Hurricane Barry storm surge.

Last year at Charenton, the water came up almost to the roadbed on the levee, Matte said.

At 3 p.m. Friday, the river stage had dropped slightly to just below the flood stage at Morgan City.

But similar slides sometimes occur when wet-and-dry extremes cause cracks in the levee face, and water moves into the cracks, Matte said.

The Levee District has repaired minor slides in the past, Matte said, and the biggest jobs are usually handled by the Corps.

The repair is done by adding 8 inches to a foot of material at the base of the slide, compacting it, adding another 8-12 inches of material, compacting that layer, and so on.

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