Councilman claims pumps not working

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 19, 2004

By VICKIE JAMBON – Staff Reporter

HAHNVILLE – Councilman Dickie Duhe stormed Monday night’s St. Charles Parish Council meeting, claiming homes were in jeopardy due to malfunctioning drainage pumps in the Norco area.

After receiving a two-thirds majority vote from the council to deviate from the meeting’s agenda, Duhe told the meeting how he came to discover only one pump working during the past weekend’s Norco flooding.

Duhe said how he checked on pumps after receiving numerous calls from individuals complaining of rising water. He said he found only one pump working and that other pumps were not running.

The councilman said he called the parish’s Emergency Operations Center twice to tell them pumps were not working but that EOC assured him on both phone calls that all the pumps were running. He added he visited the pumps, saw they were not working and was told by the EOC that they were.

Public works director, Greg Bush, answered Duhe saying, “It is unfortunate what happened Saturday morning. People worked overnight without sleep to remedy the situation. However, our call-out procedure does need improvement and we do make mistakes.”

“In the past, I have asked for permission to get Norco volunteers. I was told we could not do this because of insurance. If we can have volunteer coaches insured, then I see no reason why we can’t have flood volunteers insured,” said Duhe. He said more than 260 houses had flooded due to rising water.

Council chairman Lance Marino told Bush “I want a full accounting on what happened. We need to report to the community. We need answers to Mr. Duhe’s observations.”

Bush said he would look into the matter and have an answer ready in two weeks. He conceded that one pump overheated but that pumps were checked weekly. He said he would assign an electrician to the pump that overheats.

The council also recognized Louisiana State University women’s basketball head coach, former Hahnville High basketball star and Ama native Dana “Pokey” Chatman.