More than a foot of rain floods St. James

Published 11:45 pm Friday, May 30, 2014

By Monique Roth

PAULINA — “It just kept coming.”

Those words by Carrie Guidry, office manager of the Matherne’s Supermarket at 3251 Louisiana Highway 3125 in Paulina, likely sum up a lot of St. James Parish residents’ and business owners’ feelings about the water that just wouldn’t stop rising in the parish earlier this week.

St. James Parish President Timmy Roussel declared St. James Parish in a state of emergency Wednesday morning after Tuesday night’s intense rainfall only preceded more early Wednesday morning showers.

Guidry said when she opened the store at 6 a.m. Wednesday the water was rising steadily, but within a few minutes, the water started entering the store “as fast as you could think of.”

In the end, 8-10 inches of water soon pooled throughout the entire store. Guidry said all of the store’s employees formed a human chain and exited the building around 10 a.m., but soon returned to begin cleanup efforts as water receded around 10:30 a.m.

Meteorologist Danielle Manning with The National Weather Service said in St. James Parish their radar estimated anywhere from 10 to almost 17 inches of rain fell across the parish.

Manning said going into next week the area will get more into the typical summer weather pattern with afternoon showers and thunderstorms.

She noted it is not normal for any area to get 10 inches of rain in one day.

Roussel said widespread flooding affected residents and businesses on the east bank and the west bank of the parish, including areas in Gramercy, Lutcher, Convent, Paulina, Vacherie and Grand Point.

He estimated 100 homes and businesses were inundated with water.

Two district schools, Gramercy Elementary and the Lutcher High School auditorium, also took on water.

Roussel said the surrounding parish presidents from St. John the Baptist Parish, St. Charles Parish and Ascension Parish all called him to see what they could do to help when news of water creeping into homes and businesses started to spread.

“We asked for sandbags,” Roussel said. “They brought them to us. I tip my hat and thank those agencies who were looking to help.”

He said the residents of the parish were remarkable in their efforts as well.

“People were in their neighborhoods cleaning out culverts and ditches,” Roussel said. “I applaud the people of St. James.”

 On Thursday, three assessment teams were making their way around the parish to estimate the flood’s impact.