BY MICHELLE MILLHOLLON
Capitol news bureau
March 11, 2013
Amid criticism for declining displaced residents’ request for a sitdown, Gov. Bobby Jindal will meet with Assumption Parish officials in Baton Rouge Monday about the Bayou Corne sinkhole.
“The Governor is meeting with local officials from Assumption Parish and state agency directors on Monday to determine what more can be done for citizens affected by this event,” the governor’s press secretary, Sean Lansing, said by email.
Assumption Parish Police Jury President Martin “Marty” Triche said he got a call from the governor’s staff on Thursday, a day after Jindal sidestepped media questions about when he planned to meet with residents impacted by the sinkhole.
About 350 residents are under a now-seven-month-old mandatory evacuation order after a Texas Brine cavern underwent a sidewall collapse, allowing rock to fall into the brine-filed cavity. The shift in the earth caused a sinkhole.
“I’m anxious to meet with (the governor) on Monday whether it’s in Baton Rouge or in Bayou Corne,” Triche said.
He said he wants to talk to the governor about continued support for oversight and technical analysis as well as leaning on Texas Brine about residents’ requests for buyouts.
State Rep. Karen St. Germain, D-Pierre Part, said the governor’s staff has been “very involved” in the sinkhole response. The governor could illustrate his involvement by making a trip to Assumption Parish at some point, she said.
“It’s a great idea for him to go. He can dispel the fear that he really has not been on top of it,” St. Germain said.
Sinkhole activist John Achee Jr., who owns a camp in the impacted area, said Jindal needs to give residents 15 to 20 minutes of his time.
“While we are pleased that after seven months he has chosen to grace our officials with his presence, we look forward to seeing him March 19 at our next community meeting on the Bayou Corne sinkhole in person,” he said.
Lansing said the governor tasked the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Louisiana State Police, the state Department of Natural Resources, the state Department of Environmental Quality and the state Department of Transportation and Development with responding to the sinkhole.
He said: “The DNR has said several times that Texas Brine should consider buyouts for residents in the evacuation area who want to leave.”