The rain came down so hard and so fast one end of Jefferson Street in downtown Lafayette Monday evening that there was no time to react.
As much as Pop’s Poboys owner Collin Cormier and the others nearby have dealt with drainage issues, that’s saying something. The 2½ inches that was recorded between 6 and 7 p.m. — part of the nearly 6 inches that fell between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. — overwhelmed much of Jefferson Street and got into some businesses.
“This was the worst I’ve seen it and certainly the fastest it’s happened,” Cormier said. “Typically when you start seeing the drain getting topped you can get a couple sandbags down and hope to mitigate it. This came up in a couple of minutes. From realizing it was going to be a problem, we had water.”
The rain overwhelmed the second catch basin Lafayette Consolidated Government’s drainage department installed this spring at the corner of Convent Street in front of Cormier’s restaurant as the water was knee-high. It filled up fast on the way to water getting inside the restaurant, about 8 inches in total and two inches more than the previous high, Cormier said.
Since the restaurant has concrete flooring and walls, it was able to bounce back open on Tuesday.
Just part of the routine during heavy rains, he said.
“It’s just frustrating, obviously, just dealing with it over and over,” Cormier said. “The other side of the coin is people from all over downtown showed up with squeegees in their hands. It’s frustrating, but it’s nice to be part of a community that cares.”
Gov. John Bel Edwards warned Tuesday there's more rain on the way after an onslaught of thunderstorms that began Monday evening left south Lou…
Others nearby took on water, including the Grocery Tavern and Delicatessen, 802 Jefferson St. Owner Joshua Wells put six sandbags at the door of the building, but “there’s only so much you can do,” he said.
His business, located in the Juliet Hotel building, and others in the building share common interior doors, giving the water a way to get into all of them.
The other problem? Motorists driving down the flooded Jefferson Street and pushing more water into the building.
“From the front door all the way to the kitchen, it was definitely like a shallow swimming pool,” Wells said. “We’ve had a little bit of water coming in with heavy rainfalls, but nothing like that. That was nuts.”
The business, which is normally closed on Mondays, remained closed on Tuesday to help dry out. More rain was in the forecast for Tuesday, and that’s what Wells has his eye on.
“We’re just strapping in and getting ready as we can,” he said. “Everything on our floors are either concrete or iron. We’ve got that working for us, but we’re losing income. We’ll see what happens as the day goes on.”
Meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles predicted on Monday morning that a total of just 2 to 4 inches of rain would …
Water rose on the other end of Jefferson Street but not to that level. At Beausoleil Books, the water topped the sidewalks but stopped short of entering the building. High water was less of an issue in the middle blocks of the street.
Parish Ink posted a video on Instagram of the water lapping up to the door due to motorists driving through the water.
“We actually made it through unscathed,” said Bryan Dupree, one of the owners of Beausoleil Books. “It was close, though. That needs to be a no-wake zone when the water is that high. There’s no reason they should have allowed traffic to go through like it did. I know it was unexpected, but that definitely should be a no wake zone.”