Man, 77, intensely pleas for drainage support

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, August 17, 2016

EDGARD — As Burt Cashio recently made his way to the front of the chambers at the St. John the Baptist Parish Council meeting, the grandfatherly figure relied on a cane and stopped to rest in the front pew while another speaker finished up their comments to the Parish Council.

Upon reaching the podium at the Edgard courthouse, Cashio leaned into the wooden structure, grabbing it with both hands in support, and expelled a booming voice that did not need assistance from the microphone.

“A week ago we had a heavy rain and the water was one inch from coming into my house,” Cashio said. “Thank God I did have some sandbags ready, and thanks to some great neighbors that came to my assistance. They hauled the sandbags for me. I can’t do it anymore due to sickness and being 77 years old. Thanks to the ditches being overgrown, I now live in a bowl with all of the water coming straight at me.”

Having lived in his home for decades, Cashio said the flooding issue is a new one.

“The water is rolling toward my house,” Cashio said. “All of these years of living here I’ve never had the problems I am having now. I’ve lived through countless hurricanes and hard rains, never a problem.”

Cashio, a Garyville resident, said the problems are particularly troublesome for him due to flood insurance rate hikes.

“I cancelled my insurance this year because it went up $2,200 a year,” Cashio said. “I can’t afford the hike.”

Thus Cashio is forced into a situation where he is battling water on a consistent basis.

Many of the problems experienced in the Garyville area — between Airline Highway and River Road — Cashio chalks up to parish incompetence.

The Department of Public Works is responsible for correcting drainage issues in the parish.

Last summer Cashio said a parish work crew came out and dug a ditch in the back of his property.

“The parish got permission from all of the landowners to dig the ditch until the job was done,” Cashio said. “The ditch was lower in front than in the back. We have foremen that oversee these jobs. If they can’t do the jobs correctly, fire them.”

In addition to that ditch Cashio said nearby canals are overgrown and blocked with vegetation and trash trapped within them.

“We need our ditches and canals cleaned and the drains under the roads,” Cashio said.

Otherwise, Cashio said it is only a matter of time before a hurricane hits and his home is flooded.

“I have the (sandbags) there, I can’t haul them,” Cashio said. “My body won’t let me haul them. Who do I ask for help to haul these bags to these doorways?”

Cashio pleaded with the Council for help.

“All of you that ran for public office saying you would work for the people, would you please do it?” Cashio said.

Councilwoman Julia Remondet said the Department of Public Works needs to solve the problems.

“We really need to see if we can get him some help,” Remondet said. “It is not the first time he has complained. They’ve had some digging down in that area, but it’s not enough to help him out. This is excessive. I wouldn’t want to have to deal with this on a regular basis. Then, as you said, you are not in a position to do it yourself.”

Councilman Michael Wright said he is willing to sponsor Council action if it fixes the Department of Public Works’ structure.

“I want to see a recommendation on how we can improve the structure in the department of drainage,” Wright said. “As individual Council members, we should not have a resident come to talk about a drainage issue year after year after year. We need a recommendation on how to improve that department and the drainage area in specific. And that is my official request.”