BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — It’s been almost six decades since the Comite River was last cleaned, at least that’s what people who live in the area tell us. Now, change is coming.
Central and East Baton Rouge Parish officials said they’re using a $500,000 grant to clean the river, but some folks say it’s a waste of money.
Years after the Comite River flooding in 2016, residents may finally see some relief with an expected Comite River cleaning.
“We are fed up with the fear and anxiety that we deal with every year,” said Robert Burns, a leader for Concerned Citizens of the Comite River Drainage Improvements.
In 2016, over 100,000 residents’ homes were damaged due to flooding. Community members said after 58 years without cleaning, six years without improvements on the drainage, and the peak of hurricane season — they want answers.
“The emotional toll is indescribable,” Burns continued.
But there may be some relief in sight thanks to Central Mayor David Barrow and EBR Metro Councilman Aaron Moak.
“They asked us for half a million dollars. They’re going to put up half a million dollars to clear and snag the Comite River,” said Barrow.
But Burns believes this is a waste of money.
“And if it isn’t dealt with, then you’re almost wasting your time and money because the water is going to back up anyway,” he continued.
EBR and Central have agreed to a contractor and a million-dollar budget. The next step is voting in both city council meetings.
“Our council will actually vote on this on the 23rd of this month,” said Barrow.
Barrow acknowledges the community’s worries but says this is one step closer to solving the complicated issue. He hopes that the Comite diversion canal and the clean-up will encourage other parishes to do their part.
“And then hopefully, you know, within the next few years, Livingston, Ascension, they’ll be able to work on the Amite River,” he expressed.
Barrow wants to start the project before the end of this year but a date has not been released yet of when East Baton Rouge will add the $500,000 to its city’s council agenda.