GONZALES — Sandbags were loaded nonstop by machine and hand Wednesday morning at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center, headed out to points in Ascension Parish and neighboring parishes in the face of widespread flash flooding.
The sandbags were available at the center for pickup by residents and also loaded in trucks and shipped out. One destination for a truckload of sandbags early in the day Wednesday was the courthouse in St. James Parish, which experienced heavy flooding.
By around 11 a.m., close to 2,000 of the roughly 30-pound sandbags had been filled and the work would continue as long as needed, said parish employee Bobby Soileau with the Lamar Dixon Expo Center.
The sand and empty sandbags are stored in warehouses at the center.
Trustees from the Ascension Parish Jail assisted parish employees in the sandbagging effort.
The sandbagging machine can load approximately 150 bags in an hour, parish employees said.
District 10 Parish Councilman Bryan Melancon was one of a handful of individuals who had picked up sandbags by noon.
“It’s gotten pretty bad,” Melancon said of his neighborhood. “It’s the worst that I’ve seen since I’ve been there.”
Melancon, who’s lived in Gonzales all his life, said he’s lived in his current home for seven years. The neighborhood usually isn’t an area that floods, but the water was beginning to breach his carport area, he said.
In the city of Gonzales, water was high along La. 44, in a stretch between La. 30 and Airline Highway, before noon.
Store parking lots were flooded along La. 30, and the Burnside soccer fields next to Spartan stadium were also under water.
By midday, the water was creeping up over the football field inside the stadiums, as well.