Lake Area resident says drainage infrastructure needs major improvements

Updated: May. 20, 2021 at 7:23 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Monday came with a deluge of rain. Now comes the deluge of people who are flooded, angry, frustrated and demanding something be done to improve drainage in Calcasieu Parish.

Denise Foster’s day started at her elderly parent’s house off Sale Road where church volunteers pulled up wet flooring and did flood cleanup.

“They’ve lived here 61 years, and they never flooded,” Foster said.

Foster lives on Tamarack off McNeese Street, and she says all homeowners had to be rescued Monday.

Her walls and furniture show the water came up nearly two feet inside.

Foster served on what was the Ward 3 Drainage Board for eight years. And says the number one thing she learned is how far behind our drainage infrastructure is.

“Our drainage infrastructure is so far behind the eight ball,” said Foster.

She says local officials need to band together like never before to get funding for major improvements.

“Everyone in Lake Charles needs our officials to step up to the plate. I think they need to lobby our senators, our congressmen.”

Foster says the Central Parkway lateral behind her house has never been cleaned out. She says it empties into Contraband Bayou which also needs dredging.

“When was the last time it was dredged? I believe it was early 60s - Who knows?”

But ultimately, Foster thinks it needs a pumping station.

“I know it would cost millions, at the mouth of Contraband just like we have at the Lakefront. Put some gates and when the lake starts backing up, instead of Contraband Bayou backing up, pump it into the lake,” said Foster.

A building Foster leases to five businesses also got several inches of water.

Who is responsible for your drainage depends on where you live.

We reached out to the Calcasieu Police Jury, Lake Charles Mayor’s Office, District 2 Drainage board, DOTD, Governor’s office, two state senators and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to get their thoughts on what to do about drainage. As we hear from them we will add to our website.

So far, we received the following from a DOTD spokesperson:

“DOTD maintains the structures under our roadways that intersect with Bayou Contraband like a box culvert. DOTD does not maintain the bayou itself.”

“The drainage structures and ditches at the side of the road are designed to drain the road only. Extremely high rain volumes in a short period can inundate nearby waterways. When our ditches or the places our ditches drain become inundated this causes water to back up into the lowest point and sometimes that is the road.”

“In addition, other people’s litter accumulates on roadways and eventually clogs essential drainage systems. DOTD spends a lot of time and money on litter pickup. Last year, the Department spent $9 million on litter pickup alone. It seems to be an endless cycle of litter; as soon as it is picked up, more is down in its place. All this litter further complicates the drainage systems during heavy rain events.”

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