By LEONARD GRAY – Managing Editor

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 28, 2004

NORCO – A total of 129 homes throughout St. Charles Parish sustained water damage, including 110 residences across Norco, according to the parish’s Department of Emergency Operations.

Flood damages homes listed included three in Destrehan, four in Hahnville, three in Killona, one in St. Rose, six in New Sarpy and two in Montz.

“It’s really, really wet, and that’s a quote,” Steve Sirmon, spokesman for Parish President Albert Laque, commented.

Sunday afternoon’s rain slowly built and then slammed a deluge into the parish, concentrating on the Norco area, but with surrounding communities also feeling the edges.

Public Works Director Greg Bush said he was told 11.5 inches in eight hours had struck the East Bank community.

“It was just too much water for so little time,” Bush said, and added he authorized four additional pumps to supplement the three permanent pump stations in Norco.

Parish crews were working door-to-door, the American Red Cross was providing clean-up kits and everywhere could be seen heaps of sodden and ruined carpeting, ripped from floors.

Several streets were closed Sunday and most of Monday morning, including Apple, Good Hope, Clayton and Marino, as well as Plantation Drive in Destrehan.

Norco Elementary, Sacred Heart Elementary, New Sarpy Kindergarten and Ethel Schoeffner Elementary schools were all closed, due to high water sustained Sunday evening.

Evangeline Road in Montz was likewise closed throughout Monday.

In Norco, sheriff’s office spokesman Capt. Patrick Yoes had other matters closer to home uppermost in his mind.

Six inches of water had swept his home, devastating his elaborately decorated Japanese-style patio with fountains, pools of exotic fish and waterfalls.

He had been out of town for most of the weekend and had gone to JazzFest to sell beer for the Fraternal Order of Police as a fund-raising activity. Suddenly, he had a call from one of his daughters, that two heavy railroad cross-ties on his lawn were floating down the street.

“That’s crazy!” he responded in disbelief, but he was aware of the heavy rains, so he left early and hurried home, to find the ties were chained to a tree, where a neighbor had retrieved them.

Parish Councilman Dickie Duhe said he was planning to call for an immediate moratorium on new home construction, especially in Montz.

Duhe added that he also wants to check the telemetry systems on the town’s pumps to verify when they were on and for how long.

Duhe’s block on Oak Street, where he has lived since 1964 did not flood, but he said he fully understood how his neighbors felt. “People are very frustrated, and it’s understandable,” he said.

First rumors were that Lake Pontchartrain had backed up on them, but it quickly developed that it was simply too much rain, in too short a time for pumps to keep the town clear.

Norco residents were uniformly surprised at how fast the water swept upon them, comparing it to the 1995 flood which affected mostly the Ormond area but had its effects in Norco as well.

Kevin and Monica McCune in the 500 block of Payne Street in Norco sustained eight inches in their home.

“Once it started coming it, it just came in too fast,” she commented, as the water receded to the street.