BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Wednesday marks one year since the May flooding event. Many are back in their homes, but some are still recovering.
The Meadow Park neighborhood off of Siegen Lane stood dry and much has recovered since a year ago on this day. Last year, floodwaters devastated many homes around the area, including the childhood home of Chantra Beasley.
“You have the stars and the moon as a light while you’re trying to gather your husband, gather your key, and get out to safety. So, it was pretty terrifying,” Beasly recounts as she recalled her parents’ journey out of the house on May 18, 2021.
She said the home was overtaken by four feet of water.
“They came out the front door and of course, when they came out the front door and more water came in and when they went outside, they realized that the water was waist deep,” she said.
Her parents, who were there when it flooded, had to wade in the water for half of the way, seeking refuge at a nearby hotel.
“We’re living in a constant fear,” Beasley said. “My mom is like, ‘You know, the next time it rains again. Who’s to say we won’t get flooded again because they just keep building up around here?'”
Beasley said they’ve been there for 30 years and they’ve never seen anything like it.
“So it’s like you don’t have any time to process or think anything. You would think that since 2016 that they would be working on the drainage and that the drainage would be better, so nothing like this would ever happen again. This time it happened quicker and it was actually worse than 2016,” she explained.
“When you get 13 inches of rain that fall in a very short period of time, which was recorded at a two-hour period, our systems are not designed to handle that type of rainfall,” stated East Baton Rouge Parish Drainage Director Fred Raiford.
Raiford described what they’ve done since last year to reduce flooding. He said they’ve been working on projects with the $40 million from the American Rescue Fund.
“Cleaning the storm drains, cleaning the canals, and then we were able to secure funding, federal funding to do a lot of mitigation projects, which we will be doing in various parts of the parish,” he said.
The ball is rolling with their storm water projects like pipe repairs and debris removal from key places like Bayou Manchac.
“We removed over 20,000 cubic yards of material just on our side. Actually, the Ascension side moved a little bit more. It was probably that will be a tremendous benefit for people upstream and also downstream, but around the Siegen Lane,” Raiford stated.
They said they’ve also done 94 catch basin repairs, 54 sinkholes, and 35 pipe repairs. The City-Parish has worked to secure areas for flood water.
“When you get those major rain events, you have a place to hold it while the rest of it is catching up,” Raiford explained.
“I hope that if they keep building around here… they take into consideration retired people who live here who cannot pick up and restart their lives,” Beasley expressed.
The City-Parish said they’ve done a lot of work since June of 2021, and they have more up their sleeves. Residents are just hoping these projects start to make a difference.