DENHAM SPRINGS — People throughout much of the Amite and Comite River basins avoided flooding worse than in 1983 because Hurricane Isaac dropped its heaviest rain to the east, Deitmar Rietschier told the City Council on Wednesday.
“It missed us by about 40 miles,” said Rietschier, executive director of the Amite River Basin Commission.
The rain in Tangipahoa from Isaac was far heavier than it was in the Amite River Basin in 1983, when heavy flooding occurred in the Denham Springs and Baton Rouge areas, he said.
Winds from Isaac raised water levels by 5 feet at the mouth of the Amite River, creating a dam that would have prevented Amite River floodwater from emptying into Lake Maurepas, he said.
Isaac caused heavy flooding in southern Livingston Parish, but little backwater flooding occurred farther north along the Amite and Comite rivers.
“This would have been a really bad event for us,” had the 18 inches of rain that fell in Tangipahoa fallen in the Amite River Basin, he said.
In 1983, about 13 inches
fell in the basin, Rietschier said.
The Comite River Diversion Canal, which is still under construction, would have helped if Isaac’s rain had fallen in the Amite Basin, Rietschier said.
The canal is being constructed because of the damage caused by the 1983 flood, he said.
Denham Springs is one of the communities that would receive major benefits from the project, Rietschier said.
However, problems with federal funding have slowed the projects, Rietschier said.
He said the Amite River Basin Commission is trying to get more federal money moved to the project to speed its construction.
Some of the political will to get the $193 million project finished has faltered because the area hasn’t had a major flood since 1983, Rietschier said.
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