Nearly 40 residents of neighborhoods around Comeaux High School met Monday with a state and local representative to press for immediate drainage improvements after their homes nearly flooded again during Hurricane Barry.
"The main goal of this meeting is to get this problem solved as soon as possible," said Boyd Simon, who hosted the gathering with his wife, Dana, in their Quail Hollow home. "Most of us understand the big picture. We want to focus on the small picture."
State Rep. Stuart Bishop, Lafayette City-Parish Councilwoman Nanette Cook and Public Works Engineering Supervisor Fred Trahan listened and answered questions about flooding in and near Quail Hollow and Ashland Park subdivisions off Kaliste Saloom Road, Camellia Boulevard and Martial Avenue.
Lisa Lynch, a Quail Hollow resident, said since 2016 the water in the subdivision has been so high she's had to wade through waist-deep floodwater more than a couple of times to get home.
Rainfall from a June 6 shower, not a hurricane, flooded her street so much water was "knocking on our door," Quail Hollow resident Rebecca Dubois said. She had 24 inches of water in her house from the August 2016 deluge.
To prepare for Barry, she and her husband sent their children with family to Florida, wrapped the house in plastic, moved the furniture to the second floor and went to Kaplan to stay with family.
Studies are underway to determine the impacts of dredging the Vermilion River, which some believe is needed to increase its capacity to handle…
"We'd rather stay in Vermilion Parish" than in their Lafayette home for a hurricane, Dubois said. "We're evacuating like we live in New Orleans."
One resident of 17 years said the drainage situation is growing worse. In 2016, he had 31 inches of water in his house. His neighbor's house flooded five times, including a month ago. For Barry, another neighbor had water up to the threshhold of his door. Something has changed, the residents said.
Workers dredged a nearby coulee only part of the way then stopped, a resident said. Another said water drains from a field at nearby Comeaux High School before streets in Quail Hollow drain, allowing water to build up and nearly flood their homes. Someone else questioned why Verot School Road was rebuilt lower than before, allowing water to drain into the subdivisions alongside it.
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Another resident said before the nearby Costco shopping center was built, the large field retained water for the neighborhood. It was built before the big August 2016 flood, which prompted city officials to require tougher flood control measures for new development. The resident asked if the Costco development could be retrofitted to comply with the stricter drainage regulations at the city's cost since the city approved the project to receive increased taxes.
Trahan, the city-parish engineer, said the coulee was dredged until workers reached an unmarked high-pressure natural gas line. Officials are trying to determine the owner and what to do about it. The Verot School Road project was a state project that Lafayette Consolidated Government has no control over, he said.
LCG, Cook said, has been addressing deferred drainage maintenance projects using a $9 million transfer and tax re-dedication approved by voters.
The bigger project that would help, Cook said, is to dredge the Vermilion River, which is as shallow as 4 feet deep in spots,since all of Lafayette eventually drains into it. That project, under jurisdiction of the federal Corps of Engineers, is being held up because Vermilion Parish officials oppose it, she said.
Once-Hurricane Barry churned up heavy rain that caused flooding in parts of Acadiana on Sunday morning.
Cook asked Trahan to look into the possibility of installing larger drainage culverts in the subdivisions that flood, improving water retention measures, cleaning a canal and ensuring Quail Hollow drains into it first and dredging the Vermilion River.
"We got lucky yesterday," Simon said of Barry. "That was luck."
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