Troy Schexnaydre slowly weaved his fishing boat past interwoven tree branches hanging low over the water and worked around tree trunks poking up at odd angles.
Schexnaydre and his passengers listened for the occasional thud from the bottom of the 20-footer that announced the presence of a submerged log, sometimes tipping the boat uncomfortably to one side.
This wasn’t some remote tropical river, but Ascension Parish’s Panama Canal, a waterway vital to the parish’s rainwater management. And that overgrown vegetation isn’t just a mild nuisance for boaters, but a hindrance to adequate drainage during severe rainstorms like the deluge more than a month ago that flooded Astroland and other areas south of Interstate 10.
Eighteen inches of rain fell in the Bayou Conway-Panama Canal watershed between May 28 and June 2, flooding streets in Pelican Point, dozens of houses in Astroland and 109 homes across the parish. According to East Ascension drainage officials, the first day of the downpour was a 500-year event for a 24-hour period. In the Panama Canal area, the storm dropped 12.9 inches in 17 hours.