Council demands drainage action

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 26, 2009



LAPLACE – St. John the Baptist Parish Council members on Tuesday made it clear to parish officials they wanted to see some sort of immediate action to correct a long-standing flooding and drainage problem in Reserve.

During the council’s Finance Committee meeting, District 3 Councilman Charles Julien proposed a resolution declaring an emergency situation in the Homewood area in Reserve, where tremendous amounts of rain in the early part of December clogged streets and flooded numerous homes. Julien stressed the importance of “immediate action.”

“We had people that needed boats to get out of their homes,” Julien said. “This should not still be happening in this area. We need to get something done now and not put it off any longer.”

Julien said his urge to speak up was prompted by several phone calls from constituents complaining about sewer backups during the heavy downpours earlier this month.

He said the problem has plagued the neighborhood for decades.

“I think it is an emergency when someone wakes up and steps into raw sewage inside their home,” Julien said.

Flooding was widespread throughout St. John Parish following two heavy rainstorms earlier in the month that dropped more than 20 inches of rain in a span of a few days. The recent rain re-ignited several discussions over drainage issues across the region.

Julien had originally asked the council to approve a resolution to immediately hire an engineering firm to begin the design work to correct the Homewood flooding. After several minutes of discussion regarding flooding concerns parishwide, Div. B Councilman-at-Large Richard “Dale” Wolfe offered a substitute motion asking for the parish administration, directors and legal team to come together and devise a plan.

Wolfe’s substitute motion passed unanimously.

St. John Acting Chief Administrative Officer Buddy Boe said the administration had been working on plans to fix flooding problems in various areas of the parish, including Homewood. He said Tuesday’s motion would expedite the work.

Boe said the administration would have a plan to end the street flooding ready by the next council meeting, which is scheduled for Jan. 12 in Edgard.

Julien said after the meeting that fixing the problem in the Homewood area would also alleviate flooding in other parts of Reserve.

In other action Tuesday, the council approved a pair of contracts with Principal Engineering for replacement of two heavily traveled bridges in LaPlace.

The contracts, each totaling $350,000, are for work to repair bridges on Country Club Drive and Greenwood Drive in the Riverlands subdivision of LaPlace.

Boe said the contract for the Greenwood Bridge also includes resurfacing work on Greenwood Drive in front of LaPlace Elementary School. He said the work would not begin until summer, when school is out of session.

Administrators expect both projects to be ready for the bidding process by the beginning of April.