Flash flooding prompts renewed push for progress on city-parish Stormwater Master Plan

Flash flooding prompts renewed push for progress on city-parish Stormwater Master Plan
(Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Hours after the floodwaters had their way with Marion Gilkes’ backyard, the sound of extra water could be heard draining underground right at the edge of her property line. She says that’s much better than what she woke up to Thursday, June 6 as water made its way nearly to her carport.

Marion Gilkes
Marion Gilkes (Source: WAFB)

“There was nowhere for it to go… nowhere,” she said. “It was just shooting up.”

Not only was the water gushing by the gallon onto her property, but the drain cover was blown off while whatever was on the other side marched its way straight to her home. She and her husband say they have seen it before, but this time, it was different.

“Another 45 minutes it would have been in the house,” said Gilkes. “It would have, but we were really blessed, we were.”

That blessing though, may not hold up for the next time heavy rains target her neighborhood off Perkins Road. Anytime it rains in Baton Rouge, repeat offenders like the Acadian underpass, the Governor’s Mansion curve, and even parts of Nicholson Drive have become notorious for taking on water. Now, it seems even more pockets of pavement across the city are starting to fill up fast. Elected leaders say what Mother Nature unloaded on the city Thursday morning, though, was simply unfair. Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s administration says they were doing everything right and the pumps were firing on all cylinders, but still city-parish resources were still overtaxed.

Flash flooding prompts renewed push for progress on city-parish Stormwater Master Plan

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“The heaviest rains came during rush hour traffic dumping approximately three and a half inches of rain across the parish in a 30 minute to one-hour time frame,” she said.

Fred Raiford, Transportation and Drainage director for the city-parish, says the proof is in the pudding. He points out that once the rain stopped, most places that took on water were dry within hours.

“We had a lot of rain that fell in a short period of time and our system cannot handle this type of rain event,” he added.

It’s something that even for Gilkes’ yard seems to be true.

“It’s not long after that happens that it starts to subside,” said Gilkes.

Even though the water is gone now, she still says it’s past time for action. Gilkes says her husband cleared out a huge pile of debris from the drain after the water went down Thursday afternoon. She believes they’re doing their part to prevent flooding and now is hoping the city will deliver on a long-term solution. The Broome administration says they recently got the green light for $15 million in federal matching dollars to move ahead on the Stormwater Master Plan, a two-year flood protection proposal that city leaders promise they are aggressively working to make good on.

(Source: WAFB)

“I understand the citizens’ frustrations, but as any other issue, it takes perseverance and unfortunately, sometimes it takes patience,” added Broome.

As long as some progress is being made, Gilkes says she can spare a little patience now in exchange for some long-term peace of mind later.

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