St. Charles Parish President Matthew Jewell announced the creation of the East Bank and West Bank Citizens’ Drainage Committees this summer, and soon the groups will get to work to develop impactful drainage solutions parish-wide.
The committees will meet monthly to ensure residents have input on future drainage projects and can provide details on known issues. While Hurricane Laura caused a slight delay on the groups’ first meetings, parish officials are working with the committee members now and hope to find a date for everyone to meet soon.
“Residents are keenly aware of drainage and drainage issues, especially issues that threaten their homes,” Jewell said. “It is important to include our residents in this process as we develop long-term solutions to protect residential property and pave the way for future growth.”
Because residents know the drainage in front of their homes better than anyone else and they have the most to lose should flooding reoccur, Jewell said it is important for them to share their observations with local government authorities as plans to improve drainage parish wide are developed.
“The parish depends on our residents to be ‘first-hand’ responders to our drainage problems,” Mary Clulee, councilwoman for District 2, said. “These issues didn’t happen overnight and it will take time to address the increase in drainage needs – especially with the rain volumes we are currently experiencing.”
Jewell and council members nominated committee members to represent the various watersheds within each district.
West Bank committee members include Dustin Zeringue, Barry Roberts, Stanley Roy, Billy Hebert, Billy Woodruff, Russel Tastet and Jerry Hymel.
Mike Weekly, Duane Digoralimo, Bob Dubland, Craig Berry, Dr. Gianna Cohren, Michael Dunn and Walter Pilie make up the East Bank committee.
As the parish works to develop master drainage plans, the committee meetings will provide updates on both capital and in-house projects. Additionally, meetings will serve as a platform to garner feedback from residents on the parish’s plans and progress.
“When residents feel involved, the community always does better,” Councilwoman for District 5 Marilyn Bellock said.
Councilwoman-At-Large for Division B Holly Fonseca said it is very important that the council and other governmental personnel are able to gather input from residents in various areas of the parish.
“The residents know the drainage patterns in their areas,” she said. “The committee members will serve as the nexus between residents in the respective areas they represent and parish personnel and engineers working on the master plans.”
Nicky Dufrene, councilman for District 4, said the creation of the committees “lets the public know that we are all in this together and everyone’s concerns and issues will be discussed and hashed out.”
Samantha de Castro, the parish’s communications director, said Jewell’s administration has created a similar committee for the Recreation Master Plan.