Advocate staff writer
September 04, 2012
St. James Parish officials met with the National Weather Service Sunday to find out why water is continuing to rise in some areas of the parish while it is receding elsewhere in the state, said Melissa Wilkins, the parish’s public information officer.
The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for St. James Parish Sunday after parish officials reported swamps north of Airline Highway were causing flooding.
The flood warning included areas bordered by North Airline Avenue/Highway 3274, west to Joe Accardo Road, south to the train tracks and north into the Cypress Swamps.
While parish officials waited for answers, sandbag operations continued as water flowed into streets in Hester, Paulina, Grand Point, and three other streets near Lutcher and Gramercy.
A voluntary evacuation order for people living in the Oscar Brooks Apartment Complex in Lutcher was called by the mayor, and by Sunday afternoon 21 residents were taken to a shelter at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales.
Volunteers were still needed to fill sandbags at the Grand Point Fire Station and the Gramercy Water Treatment Plant on Highway 44.
In Ascension Parish, water levels continued to go down in most areas Sunday as parish officials moved forward with recovery efforts, including debris pickup and changes to some drainage infrastructure.
“We seem to be doing well except for one hot spot in Sorrento,” said Tommy Martinez, Ascension Parish president. “We are actually helping St. James Parish out now. We’ve been sending them sandbags all morning.”
Bill Roux, East Ascension drainage director, said most of the high water areas in the parish appeared to be at or past their highest points.
“All in all, we’re in pretty good shape,” Roux said.
There was still high water in an area south of Sorrento and along Raymond Tullier and Tullier roads, however the water apparently had stopped rising in the area, Roux said.
In addition, the parish reduced the pumping at the Marvin J. Braud Pumping Station from five pumps to two, Roux said.
“We learned some things because of this unique event,” Roux said. Starting next week, drainage crews will be making some adjustments to the pump station to raise the sheet pile height around the construction area where two new pump station bays are being built, Roux said.
The gate that closes off boat passage will also be increased in height and fill material will be added to each side of the pump station, he said.
In addition, there are several areas around the parish where some minor modifications or additions to the infrastructure could help minimize flooding, Roux said.
Later, when the water on the Lake Maurepas side of the pumping station gets much lower, there will be some modifications to the outflow pipes on the pumps, he said.
In the wake of the storm, Martinez announced that mosquito control measures are being increased because of the expected rise in the number of mosquitoes.
Spray trucks will work seven days a week, day and night, and the amount of larvicide that’s placed in ditches will also increase, said David Matassa, Ascension Parish Mosquito Control Department director.
“Breeding sites have increased across the parish because the water will help hatch mosquito eggs that have been laying dormant on the ground,” Matassa said in a news release. “Eggs can be dormant for up to 20 years. With stagnant water and the right temperatures, it takes anywhere from five days to two weeks for eggs to produce mosquitoes.”
Ascension Parish was added Saturday to the list of parishes where homeowners, renters and business owners with property damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Isaac can register for federal and state disaster assistance.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency sent out notices Saturday urging people to register with FEMA as soon as possible. People who qualify could get help with paying for temporary housing, emergency home repairs or get a low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, according to a FEMA press release.
People can register online at www.disasterassistance.gov or via smartphone at m.fema.gov. Applicants may also call (800) 621-3362 or (TTY) 1 (800) 462-7585. If someone uses 711-Relay or Video Relay Services call 1 (800) 621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.