Packed auditorium in Walker as residents discuss drainage issues with City and Parish officials

Packed auditorium in Walker as residents discuss drainage issues with City and Parish officials
Residents living in the Walker and throughout Livingston Parish, voiced their drainage concerns at a Town Hall meeting Monday night.

WALKER, La. (WAFB) - Residents living in Walker and throughout Livingston Parish voiced their drainage concerns at a Town Hall meeting Monday night.

Meeting to discuss drainage issues in Walker draws crowds

The meeting took place inside the auditorium at Walker Freshman High School due to the standing room only crowds.

Hours earlier residents in the city were reminded that Monday marks three years since the devastating floodwaters swept through the area. City officials in Walker, along with Livingston Parish officials discussed what they’ve done in regards to drainage since those floods in 2016.

However, residents still believe more work needs to be done to prevent flooding in the area and of their homes.

“Main thing is, we’ve got other ditches running behind these houses. We’ve got them coming in off of [Florida Street]. If those aren’t dug out, what y’all doing ain’t helping us out any at all,” said one resident.

“If you open more openings underneath the interstate, you’re not going to stop this flooding north of the interstate. The biggest problem you got is also, they built the interstate up 15 inches higher than the 100 year flood stage,” said another resident.

Walker City officials say since the 2016 flood, they’ve cleaned 20,401 feet of ditches and replaced 104 culverts.

Their plans for the future include conducting a large scale drainage study to identify any weak points in their systems and make recommendations for improvements.

“Rain and drainage does not cross political lines, it crosses district lines. Just because it didn’t happen in Walker, there are certain things we can do and there are certain things other agencies can do, that we work real well together with,” said Mayor of Walker, Jimmy Watson.

In regards to Livingston parish, changes have been made to the development process, meaning more subdivisions and drainage systems will now be designed for more rainfall. Also, buildings will have to be constructed 1 foot above base flood elevation.

“So part of the process means not just moving [water] through faster, but maybe it also requires holding it in place the way Mother Nature used to do,” said WAFB’s Chief Meteorologist Jay Grymes.

Congressman Garret Graves says he’s secured roughly $3 billion for future flood protection measures for this entire region which includes Livingston Parish.

“Of that, $1.2 billion is designed for future projects, meaning none of it is earmarked or designated for specific projects. This is really designed to take us to that next level of flood protection, where as the remaining $1.8 million is fully funding projects that were thought of years ago,” said Congressman Graves.

The Chief of Operations for the City of Walker, Jamie Etheridge, says the biggest takeaway from the meeting is by working together with Livingston Parish officials, the State, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, and the Gravity Drainage District, officials can get the drainage problem solved.

However, he says they have to start by looking at drainage issues as a watershed concern.

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