Temporary levee gives Dumas House flash flood relief

Temporary levee gives Dumas House flash flood relief
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Imagine being stranded every time there's a heavy, sudden downpour. That has become standard for seniors living at the Dumas House on North Sherwood Forest Drive.

Thanks to the summer's severe weather, their parking lot has been overwhelmed with water twice in two weeks, forcing residents to move cars to higher ground.

The East Baton Rouge Council on Aging owns the senior living facility and Volunteers of America manages it. The director of housing operations Janice Bartley said they've been fighting the flash flooding for years.

"We have surrounding properties that are higher and we get a lot of runoff water on the property. Even so, that should not stop water from getting into the drain," said Bartley.

In 2012, an engineering firm, Brown and Associates, looked into why water was slow to drain. At that time, the firm said a permanent fix would require rebuilding the parking lot at an estimated cost of $375,000. Instead, the engineers recommended trying a cheaper, temporary solution first: building up the ground near a canal that runs along the property and often overflows.

That project was completed in 2013. Since then, managers have reached out to the city as well as neighbors and asked for help keeping nearby canals and drains clear.

However, the recent flash floods show the problem remains. Concerned residents called 9News on June 30, the day of the second flooding. The following weekend, Bartley said they hired a contractor to build a temporary levee using plywood and sandbags. The resulting wall runs along the backside of the property near the original source of the overflow.

It wasn't long before the wall got its first test. Barley said heavy rains on Sunday resulted in over a foot of water collecting on the backside of the levee. Fortunately, it held and kept the parking lot drains from being overwhelmed.

Residents told us it is an improvement.

"Pretty good I would say. We were afraid it was going to flood again, but it didn't. It almost did," said Armando Quintanilla.

Bartley said the groups are also hopeful an upcoming sewer upgrade by the city will improve drainage in the neighborhood. They plan to reassess everything once that upgrade is complete.

The Council on Aging is also looking for extra funding to pay for a more permanent solution. Barley said residents' safety is top priority.

"Rest assured, we are doing everything we can to address the issue.  We will take care of it," said Bartley.

Meanwhile, managers are looking for volunteers to fill extra sandbags to help control the flow of water. Anyone interested in helping out can contact Volunteers of America Marketing Director Amanda Gustavson at (225) 408-3796 or agustavson@voagbr.org.

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