St. Martin Parish working on 7 major drainage projects to mitigate backflooding

Posted at 6:30 AM, Aug 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-17 09:05:51-04

Two years after the historic flood, work continues on seven major projects across Saint Martin Parish.

Back water flooding from the Bayous Vermilion and Teche caused flooding in much of the parish.

Some residents accessible only by boat and parish officials were forced to open floodgates along a canal connecting the bayous to alleviate flooding.

A few months later voter approved a $20 million dollar bond for a full revamp of the parish’s major bayou drainage systems.

Parish leaders are working to get to work done before the next major rain event.

“In 2016 the amount of water that found its way to St. Martin was the equivalent to taking Lake Pontchartrain, and putting it in a big barrel and dumping it in St. Martin Parish one time, then doing it a second time, and then putting half of Lake Pontchartrain in that barrel and dumping it,” said St. Martin Parish President Chester Cedars.

The major problem for St. Martin Parish is not flash flooding but backwater flooding.

“It collects and accumulates as the result of problems that might be not only in your parish but in other parishes and other areas that prevents the free flow and free drainage of water,” explained Cedars.

St. Martinville resident Monica Bridges says backwater flooding has damaged her home four times since August of 2016.

She says she voted for the $20 million dollar bond as a necessity.

“Well, every time it rains I get paranoid because I think we’re gonna get rain in our house again,” said Bridges.

In addition to the bonds the parish is receiving federal and state grants, spending at least $30 million dollars on seven major long term drainage projects.

Two of those projects are awaiting permit approval by the Army Corps of Engineers.

“There’s a great deal of design, a great deal of survey work that has to go into the project. Monumental task, that’s why it takes several years to complete these major drainage projects,” said Cedars.

“It’s very important that they get it done, because not only our home, but there’s a bunch of people in that neighborhood, and I’m pretty sure a lot of people in St. Martin Parish (who) are worried about their homes. And, I’m pretty sure they’re ready to have something done with the drainage,” said Bridges.