Park, museum wiped out; Volunteers battle to save history

Published 7:06 am Wednesday, March 16, 2016

DAILY NEWS PHOTO/Jesse Wright The flood badly damaged the park’s playground equipment.

The flood badly damaged the park’s playground equipment.

Some of the Native American masks at the Cassidy Park museum are four and five thousand years old, surviving well beyond those who made them, their culture and their purpose.

Friday, they survived a torrent of water, when four feet of rushing rainwater tore through the park and museum. Two feet of water got into the pioneer museum next door.

The water ripped sand from the swings, crumbled a play set and tossed whole sections of asphalt from the road. Inside the museums, the flood left water damage and mud.

Monday, structural engineers were assessing damages while volunteers sorted through what displays could be dried and saved.

“We have severe damage,” said museum vice president Robin Day. “We’re in the process of assessing everything. We don’t have any sense for what’s been a total loss and what we’ll be able to save.”

Generally, Bogalusa public works director James Hall said the park was the worst-hit city property. It lies on the banks of the Bogue Lusa Creek, and Friday the normally tranquil little creek rose over its banks and covered the park and Willis Drive, rendering the whole area impassable.

Besides the park, the floodwaters also tore up the land just west of the park, where Entergy’s Camellia power station sits. Monday, the fence surrounding the station was sagging in places and, in others, smashed down into the mud. Mayor Wendy Perrette said if the water had risen another three inches, the whole city would have been without power.

“We were very fortunate not to lose power because of the flooding,” she said. “The electricity loss would have been indefinite.”

Perrette said the storm could provide opportunities for the city and for the residents.

“We have to figure out the best way to turn lemons into lemonade. This may present an opportunity to upgrade our aging infrastructure to benefit the long-term economic growth of our community,” she said.

But for now the city, and residents, are just getting organized after the storm.

On Monday, all of Cassidy Park was closed to the public, though museum volunteers were cleaning up the debris.

The museum isn’t seeking volunteers yet, but Day said that even though she doesn’t know what will be needed, she knows monetary donations will help.

“If anyone would like to contribute any financial assistance, that would be welcome,” she said. “Just thoughts and prayers and any money to help that people would be able to give, we’d be more than happy to receive.”