SORRENTO — FEMA has recognized an Ascension Parish resident’s flood mitigation efforts as a best practice to be followed by others.
Barry Waguespack called on a few friends and neighbors to help him fortify his home on Raymond Tullier Road near La. 70 in Sorrento before Hurricane Isaac made landfall in late August.
Known as “the flood fighters,” the crew worked in three shifts of six to eight men, using three small tractors to build a levee around the home. Waguespack also reached out to Ascension Parish officials, who delivered sandbags to help the property withstand the 14 inches of rain that Isaac brought to Sorrento.
The cost of the flood mitigation, thanks to the donated labor and the parish’s sandbags, was only $800, which is less than the insurance deductible on Waguespack’s home. The effort staved off the standing water outside of the house, saving Waguespack time and money. He suffered only a cracked window and minor roof damage during the storm.
“I just hope telling my story helps somebody else,” Waguespack said.
Attempts to reach officials with the Ascension Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, which also was lauded by FEMA for its efforts in aiding Waguespack prior to the hurricane, were unsuccessful.
When he first bought his 2-acre lot 12 years ago, Waguespack elevated it by a foot using 80 truckloads of river silt before constructing the house. Still, he knew a flood was possible, and has purchased flood insurance since 2001.
The LSU AgCenter has offered tips to residents who, like Waguespack, live in a flood-prone area. According to its “Using Sandbags for Flood Protection,” the AgCenter suggests:
- Sandbags alone, when filled and stacked properly, can hold back floodwater, but are most effective when used with plastic sheeting.
- When creating a flood barrier with sandbags, stack them so the seams between bags are staggered. Tuck the top of each bag under so the bag is sealed by its own weight.
- For protection from water more than 2 feet deep, stack the sandbags so they make a levee.
- Have an evacuation plan and decide in advance when you will abandon a residence in case the temporary floodwall fails.
Additional flood protection information is available from the LSU AgCenter at www.louisianafloods.org.