Louisiana to Include Sinkholes in Disaster Planning

April 16, 2015

Sinkholes will be recognized as threats in the state’s updated hazard mitigation plan.

The Daily Comet reports the state is working on a five-year update to its hazard mitigation plan, which must be in place to receive federal money after natural and man-made disasters.

For the first time, the state will map salt domes and their surrounding 2-mile radius in each parish.

“That’s the best way they can predict if a sinkhole might happen within the parish,” said Lauren Stevens, a project manager with the Baton Rouge-based Stephenson Disaster Management Institute, which is compiling the plan.

Salt domes are pockets of salt deep in the ground that are sometimes drilled out and used to store crude oil, natural gas or other material.

A failed salt dome cavern is suspected of causing a 29-acre sinkhole to form in Bayou Corne in Assumption Parish in August 2012.

When it was discovered, 350 residents were advised to evacuate.

There are 16 salt domes identified in Lafourche Parish.

Local governments will now have to mitigate for those potential sinkholes under the new plan, said Chris Boudreaux, the parish’s director of homeland security and emergency preparedness.

Boudreaux learned about sinkhole causes and their aftermath by helping his brother, John Boudreaux, who is the director of homeland security and emergency preparedness in Assumption Parish throughout the disaster.

There is not much government can do to prevent existing salt domes from becoming sink holes because the drilling has already taken place, he said.

The hazard mitigation plan also covers threats from floods, levee breaks and coastal erosion.

Officials are looking for input on the plan from residents in each parish.

Stevens said the feedback helps parish officials know what risks residents are most concerned about and how they want to receive information about disasters.

“It gives them a better idea about what the community is looking for, what they’re worried about,” she said.

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