Posted: Sep 21, 2011 6:04 PM by Melissa Hawkes
Updated: Sep 21, 2011 6:04 PM
The Eunice City Lake is finally getting restored, eleven years after a hazardous train explosion. Thirty-three train cars derailed and two exploded in May 2000- not far from the water's edge.
The accident released potentially hazardous materials and chemicals in the air. However, officials guaranteed their were no health risks. Despite the okay from the Department of Environmental Quality, many people abandoned the lake.
Officials are hoping the million dollar make-over, funded by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, will reel people back in.
Eunice resident, Mike Thomas, said, "people need to come on out here and go fishing.
They don't need to be going out of town. It's right here at home."
Eunice city officials have the same idea as Thomas, restoring the lake has been on the city's agenda for 11 years.
Mayor Rusty Moody said, " the train derailed and the judge set aside a certain amount of money. It's been in litigation because the lake was privately owned by some other people."
The city recently bought the lake and now the work begins. The first step is draining the body of water.
Council member, Scott Fontenot, said, "they are going to be draining it all and putting a new species of fish in it-just to give the people confidence to come back and fish here."
After the accident, the water and soil was tested and officials said it was safe for people to eat the fish in the water, but a fear of contamination turned people away.
"I was kind of scared because everyone was talking-saying it wasn't any good," Thomas said. "After a couple years, I started eating the fish here and I didn't get sick, so guess it's alright."
Mayor Moody is hoping the rejuvenated lake will eliminate any fear that the fish is not safe. It's not just about cleaning out the water, a number of improvements will be made, including restoring the worn down fishing pier.