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Seeking drainage solutions while mired in bureaucracy

As officials explained their processes at a meeting of Lake Charles City Council Tuesday night,...
As officials explained their processes at a meeting of Lake Charles City Council Tuesday night, they demonstrated the complexity of drainage.(gdd2east.com)
Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 7:56 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - The Calcasieu Police Jury, the City of Lake Charles, the East Calcasieu Drainage Board, and numerous federal and state agencies all have a role when it comes to drainage.

And that’s part of why it’s hard to get to the bottom of what’s causing flooding in your neighborhood.

Calcasieu Police Jury Project Engineer James Geihsler says they have assessed all laterals in the parish for debris, and it came out to almost two million cubic yards of debris. He says they looked at 1700 miles of laterals and documented each debris zone.

Geihsler says about 800 laterals will be included in the eligible list submitted to NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service).

He says their first project submitted is Kayouchee Coulee. But nothing is ever fast or simple.

“We’ve been working through this for the past nine months. I wish I could give you a date today when the first construction project will start, but as we work on getting the corps of engineers permits, that is going to be one of the big items that we have to get authorization for,” Geihsler said.

Eastside Calcasieu Drainage Board President Mike Wittler says they have four pump stations and 15 employees working daily, just since Hurricane Laura.

“We spent this week and part of last week working underneath the Lake Street Bridge on Contraband Bayou. When we’ll get that cleared, next rain that comes along, some more is going to come down it,” Wittler said.

Many people want to know where the drainage board has worked and Wittler says they are coming out with a map that will help show that.

“That will be on our website which is gdd2east.com, and that is an effort to be more responsive to some of the comments that were made the other night. The map, I think, will be interactive,” he said.

Wittler says they are working with the police jury to get a federal response. He says large-scale funding, perhaps $100-million, is needed.

As officials explained their processes at a meeting of Lake Charles City Council Tuesday night, they demonstrated the complexity of drainage.

Still, in the words of Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter, “We can do more.” And that’s what many citizens are counting on as they seek help rebuilding their homes and hopefulness that it won’t be for naught.

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