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DOTD responds to cries for help with ESJ flooding

By Rebecca Burk / L’Observateur / January 19, 1998

RESERVE – Recent episodes of pouring-down rain have become a problemand a bother to East St. John High School students and faculty.

The school was forced to shut its doors early Tuesday due to rain and thepossibility that the water would eventually seep inside the building.

School board member Clarence Triche has witnessed the extensiveflooding the school faces every time the rains pour down since the schoolopened in 1979. So this time he decided to do something about it insteadof sitting by and watching the halls of the Reserve campus fill withwater.

“I was afraid that with one more big rain, the water would go inside theschool,” Triche said. “But we were lucky this time.”With the prompt help and cooperation of local officials, hopefully the luckwill continue.

Triche called Rep. Bobby Faucheux, who responded to the problem in lessthan 48 hours by calling the Department of Transportation andDevelopment, which responded immediately, said Ron Troxler, Faucheux’slegislative assistant.

Triche and Troxler met with Maurice Jordan, district administrator withthe DOTD, and other St. John School Board officials Wednesday afternoonto discuss the problem.

After going to the school to examine the situation, the group concludedthat the problem is with the culverts that carry water under AirlineHighway from the cane fields to the school’s side of the road.

Once the water travels through the culvert to the school’s side of thehighway there is no place for it to go, so it just gets higher and higher,flooding the grounds and parking lot and sometimes the building.

Triche said that for fear of flooding, the teachers’ parking lot was built 3feet above the rest of the ground.

But the problem, although serious, can be fixed.

“If we have to close the school for a day, it’s a pretty serious problem,”Nathan Stein, executive manager of finance, said.

The DOTD is considering the addition of another culvert and widening onealready there between the canals across the street from the school. Theychose this route so that some of the water that is drained from the fielddirectly across the street from the high school can go more to the east orwest instead of just going south toward the school.

“Instead of so much water coming through the culvert, maybe we canchannel it in other directions,” Jordan said. “But you can’t make water gowhere it doesn’t want to go.”

So far the DOTD is being very cooperative with those concerned about thepossibility of a flooded high school.

“We are not doing this by any engineering study,” Jordan said to Triche.”We are doing it because you have seen it and we believe you.”

“I appreciate anything you can do,” Triche replied.

Even though the DOTD and Faucheux were quick to jump in and help thesituation, things may be done at a slow speed from here.

“If the landowner (of the cane field) doesn’t agree to put a culvert hereand the parish won’t do it, it could get to be a legal matter,” Jordan said.”I hate to go to court over a culvert, but by law they (landowners) arerequired to provide one.”

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