BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The Metro Council recently approved a $20 million budget to improve drainage across the capital city and kicked off the projects in the Westminster neighborhood.
The residents that we spoke to are glad the city is cleaning out the drains, but they are skeptical that it will serve as adequate prevention for the next disaster.
“I’m not hopeful at all. I want to get this house fixed and I want to sell it and I want to get out of Baton Rouge because I don’t want to go through this again,” said Richard Manning.
Richard and Wendy Manning are just two of the Westminster residents who experienced flooding for the first time in May. “This house was built in 1973 and never flooded,” said Wendy Manning.
The $20 million projects approved by the Metro Council are designed to clean out and repair existing drainage systems. Residents are hopeful this will protect them from the next storm, but Stephen Punkay is not convinced that is enough. “That tells me at the front of the neighborhood, which is higher ground, how much is in some of these lower catch basins,” said Punkay.
A spokesperson for the mayor’s office says, at this time, crews are “focused on drains with the greatest sedimentation that will have the greatest impact on improving drainage.”
While this project will help drainage during light rain events, Kelvin Hill says it will not prevent flooding entirely. “No matter how clean these pipes are or how much we cleaned up, they’re just not going to handle that much water at one time. But our hope is by getting them plain, getting the sediment out of them, the water will drain faster,” said Hill.
But councilmember Laurie Adams says this is not the only solution the council is considering, “We are looking at everything, we know that flooding, stormwater management, drainage, these are multifaceted issues.”
“We want to know, practically, is this going to happen again. As we’re thinking of rebuilding, that’s in the back of our mind,” said Punkay.
The Metro Council hosted a virtual town hall to discuss the drainage master plan. A representative from the mayor’s office tells me crews will begin work in the Mayfair area off of Perkins in the immediate future.