Flooding plagues region for second straight week

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 16, 2009



ST. CHARLES – Last week, persistent and heavy rains caused widespread flooding in various St. John Parish neighborhoods. This week, it was St. Charles’ turn.

Reports from the National Weather Service indicate that more than 11 inches of rain fell in parts of the parish Monday night, an unprecedented rainfall event for the month of December. Much of the rain fell in areas already saturated by precipitation from the previous week.

“It did not take long for many of the same streets to take on more standing water,” said St. Charles Public Information Officer Renee Allemand-Simpson. “It had no where else to go. The ground is just too saturated.”

Simpson said several of the parish’s main arteries – including Ormond Boulevard in Destrehan, Evangeline Road in Montz, Woodland Drive in Boutte and St. Rose Avenue in St. Rose – were all submerged in the early morning hours Tuesday. Additionally, over two-dozen other roads throughout the parish reported standing water.

The rain also forced St. Charles Sheriff’s deputies to close the I-310 off ramp at Airline Highway, which experienced very high water from the Borrow Pit Canal along the shoulder. Parish employees placed sandbags along Airline Highway from Ormond Boulevard to I-310 to keep the rising water at bay. Traffic on Airline Highway was limited to one lane in both directions.

“Public works employees have been working nonstop since Monday morning clearing ditches and cleanouts,” Simpson said. “All pumps are functioning and operational, but with the high amount of rain over the last few days, we knew flooding was inevitable.”

Simpson said as of 1 p.m. Tuesday, the storms flooded a total of 35 homes on the west bank of the parish. Many of the homes were flooded as a result of water overtopping a 5-foot levee behind River Ridge Drive in Boutte.

Simpson said water poured over three sections of the levee. She said public works was working to sandbag the breach points.

The persistent storms forced all public and private schools in the area to close Tuesday. Simpson said Parish residents were also asked to cut down on sewer usage to only necessary tasks. The list of discouraged activities included washing clothes, doing dishes, toilet flushing and showering.

Officials in St. John Parish said flooding was a concern overnight Monday, and they monitored the situation closely, but standing water had receded in most areas by morning.

“Many of the same areas that flooded last week flooded this time, but we had no reports of water in any homes in the parish,” St. John Acting Chief Administrative Officer Buddy Boe said. “The water was off most roadways by daybreak Tuesday.”