Water isn’t anything new for St. Martin Parish, but Parish President Chester Cedars says it’s a little more of an issue this January than it usually is.
“This has been an unusual several months in terms of rain, not only in our region, but the areas north of our parish, in the northern part of the state and indeed the entire Midwest, and this has resulted in abnormally high water levels throughout our entire parish,” Cedars said.
The rain has affected sugar cane farmers’ harvest and production, but it’s also resulted in abnormally high water in the lower St. Martin area, he said. So far, the only concern for flooding of homes or property is in the Stephensville and Belle River areas, he said.
“For that part of the parish, we have been meeting for several weeks now, and we’re ahead of the game. We’re prepared for whatever the weather may bring us, and whatever high water issues may accompany the weather events,” Cedars said.
Cedars said it’s not about the amount of water, necessarily, but the timing of it.
“What we’re dealing with now is just high water as a result of watershed issues which are characteristic of our region. What is confusing and particularly unusual is, we generally don’t see water levels this high at this time of year,” Cedars said. “Normally our water levels will be six to eight feet, but right now we’re looking at levels of 10 feet.”
Cedars said the parish already has implemented flood measures in the lower part of the parish, with more coming.
“That’s issue number one. The second issue relative to high water levels at this point in time is very simply, what will we be facing come late March, April, May? We’re already in a planning stage to address particularly high water during that period of time,” Cedars said. “Hopefully we won’t have to implement any of these plans, but again we’re ahead of the game, looking ahead.”
Cedars credited the parish’s Emergency Preparedness staff for their work in the planning.
“I can’t compliment our emergency preparedness director and his personnel enough; he’s just been of superb assistance to St. Martin Parish,” Cedars said.
The parish’s public works department also has stepped up, he said.
“While we normally have to plug some drains, and we normally have to bags of sand prepared, it’s never 40 or 50 degrees when we do,” he said. “But our employees have stepped up, and again, because of their dedication, we’re ahead of the game. We’re prepared.
“I can’t prevent the water from rising, but I damned sure can be prepared to address measures to control it, and that’s what we’ve done.”