Walter Pelie didn’t get water in his house in the Dec. 28 flood that deluged the Destrehan area, but it came close and many of his neighbors weren’t so lucky.
“People are really worn out with flooding,” Pelie said of the Destrehan area. “One neighbor had four inches in the house, and I sweated it.”
Backed up water combined with a cold front that stalled over the area and dumped 5 to 7-1/2 inches of rainfall that night caused the flood. By late night, residents started calling the EOC with reports of rapidly rising water in yards and then many residences flooding in the latest of numerous floods in the area.
At the Feb. 18 council meeting, residents expressed concerns about addressing the problem.
Pelie’s neighbor, Tina Berteau, appealed to the council to solve the area’s flooding problems.
“I moved in my house when I was 21 and I’m 61 still dealing with it,” Bertau said. “I’d like it fixed.”
She recounted having to pick up furniture to avoid it getting wet, and added, “I don’t know if can do it at 81.”
Councilwoman Wendy Benedetto said she knew Public Works was on top of the flooding, but added, “Now, residents are in a panic for the next big rain. What can we tell them to feel better about the next big rain event and what can be done quickly?”
Public Works Director Clayton “Snookie” Faucheux maintained everything that could be done was done that night to fight the flood, but the combination of heavy rain and drainage problems caused the water to back up within hours. Faucheux said once he and Parish President Larry Cochran confirmed the pumps were working, they called in more personnel. By 1 a.m., all Public Works Department workers were on the job along with those from the departments of recreation, wastewater and government buildings.
But Faucheux said heavier rainfall contributed to the deluge.
“It used to be an afternoon shower, but now we get three inches,” he said. “It used to be overnight rains, but at the New Sarpy pump station we logged 7.5 inches of rain in a little over 2-1/2 hours. I can’t answer for those.”
However, Faucheux said an analysis of the Ormond Oaks area approved by the council will help pinpoint needed drainage upgrades that include acquiring new conveyances aimed at improving water flow to the Destrehan pumps.
“What we need to do is find the most direct route to get the most water to the Dunleith Canal,” he said. “We have the pump capacity to get the water out. The problem is strictly conveyance.”
Many of them make 90-degree turns, which Faucheux said attracts debris that cause water to back up in areas like Ormond Nursing Home and Plantation Estates.
“We need more direct routes and that’s what we’re exploring right now,” he said. “We need to know volume and the amount of water needed to get through them to secure and procure servitudes.”
Faucheux further maintained, “Some of the past administrations have been afraid to invest money in the Ormond area because people perceive the people of Ormond getting everything. Well, this administration is not only attacking that drainage there, but in every neighborhood in St. Charles Parish.”
He added that debris at the Dunleith Canal crossing, which is considered one of the most important drainage canals in St. Charles Parish, is hindering water flow.
“We have every intention of completely removing it,” Faucheux said. Past studies don’t reflect it and he was unaware of why it hadn’t been removed in the past.
“We need to understand what type flows we can get through this area and direct routes to get rainwater to Dunleith Canal,” he said. “This study will focus on the amounts of water and some of the present drainage in place to make sure it’s adequate with the right elevations, sizes and flows so that we can get the water directly to the Destrehan 2 pump station.
Faucheux said an upgrade is coming to the station that will increase the pump area and widen the entrance to the canal.
“I moved in my house when I was 21 and I’m 61 still dealing with it. I’d like it fixed.”- Tina Berteau
“These are all pieces of the puzzle that we’ve been looking at since we started this two weeks ago,” he said.
Pelie said this would the third of three studies done on the area’s drainage issues, calling some of the recommended work a no-brainer but questioned the effectiveness of other options. He asked that public input be taken as part of the study to ensure an effective, long-term solution.
While the Destrehan pumps have ample capacity to remove water, he maintained poor maintenance of the culverts and canals lent to water backing up and flooding the area.
“The thing that scares a lot of people is if we don’t move quickly to do some of the maintenance that we’ll reap the benefit of another flood coming in,” Pelie said. “We’ve got to get on top of that.”
Hahnville resident Milton Allemand agreed with Pelie’s concerns.
“We need to move on where to start and then a make a commitment that we’re going to do something,” Allemand said. “Just to talk about a study isn’t going to solve the problem until we get a concrete plan to fix this.”
On Dec. 28, Allemand said they came within an inch of having water in his house.
“We flooded in Hahnville worse than ever,” Allemand said. “I’ve never seen this before so the drainage is worse, and we’re going to open a new subdivision within a mile away that will put water on us.”
- On Dec. 28, residents fought flooding with rainfall of 5 to 7-1/2 inches.
- Parish Public Works Director Clayton “Snookie” Faucheux said issues being addressed include improving direct water flow to the pump stations.
- Council approves an analysis of the Ormond Oaks area toward identifying water flow issues.