Drainage problems: Residents near Buxton Creek want answers

Published 10:36 am Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Drainage problems along Buxton Creek and its tributaries have plagued DeQuincy residents for some time.

On Monday, residents showed up at a special meeting to find out what could be done and who was responsible for doing the work, gravity drainage or city workers.

Consolidated Gravity Drainage District 2 representatives David Cooley, superintendent, Nathan Spencer, board commissioner and Cade Cole, attorney; District 11 Calcasieu Parish Police Juror Roger Marcantel; and DeQuincy Mayor Riley Smith and Council Chair Denise Wilcox provided information and fielded questions at the meeting.

Funding hurdles, including the time it takes to get funds in place to complete such a project, often years; pinpointing city versus parish drainage lateral responsibilities; and help for the most pressing needs — erosion issues — were some of the outcomes of the meeting.

Jackie Moore lives in a subdivision referred to as Boise Addition. His mother lives nearby. He wanted to know if the holes in her yard caused by poor drainage could be fixed.

Some measure as deep as 30 inches and are now channeling under the house causing the slab to crack.

“Every time it rains, it gets worse,” he said.

“Every time it rains, I get water in my house,” Myra Hennigan said. “Just during the last three years, it’s gotten bad. I can’t even leave my house when it rains for fear that it’s going to be flooded when I get back.

Kevin LeVergne said he has been asking for drainage issues to be addressed in his neighborhood for 20 years. That’s when Buxton Creek, into which all laterals flow, was cemented.

It has recently been cleared and snagged from La. 27 to Houston River in Ward 6.

Moore, Hennigan, LaVergne and other property owners that showed up for the meeting were mainly from DeQuincy’s District 2, the northeast part of town. However, flooding, drainage and erosion concerns are prevalent in the southeast of town, even threatening the operation of the sewer plant in that area.

“We’re going to get the money,” said Dist. 11 Calcasieu Parish Police Juror Roger Marcantel about the millions needed to fix the problem. I’d like to tell you it’s going to happen tomorrow, but it’s not,” he said. “But it is going to be fixed.”

Marcantel acknowledged that the community has had issues for a long time. In this past year, he has become more focused on the particulars of the problem.

“When the lateral was dug, it should have become the responsibility of the gravity drainage, but that wasn’t done for whatever reason back then so no maintenance work has been done, and every year it has gotten a little worse,” Marcantel said. “I got involved, Nathan and David Cooley got involved and that’s where we are right now.”

Meyers & Associates, a local engineering firm, is in the process of making a “scope of work” report, according to Marcantel.

“When Meyers looked at it, they came back and said that the original design was flawed. A chain wall should have been on each approach,” Cooley said.

Cade Cole named some of the needs addressed in the engineering report. The chain wall was just one of the problems that would need to be tackled he said.

“There was a plan. That plan has been added to. Engineering is looking at it. When that plan is ready and the funds are secured, the project will be put out to bid,” Marcantel said.

The amount of funding secured from local, state and federal sources will determine the scope of work that can be completed, whether the most pressing issues are addressed or all issues in the plan will be addressed. However, by the time monies are in place new and more critical issues could surface. It was not the most encouraging of reports except that it does demonstrate the problem is being addressed.

One suggestion for acquiring hazard mitigation funding requires immediate action by residents of DeQuincy. Property owners who have experienced flooding since 2020 weather events should report it, and especially those property owners who did not have insurance or did not make an insurance claim. Getting those dollars (and this is only one source) depends on case numbers, according to Cade Cole, attorney for Consolidated Gravity Drainage District 2. Email reports to gravityDD6@gmail.com or call 786-3228.

The discussion turned to whose responsibility it is to make certain repairs or to dig out certain ditches.

“When they put in the concrete ditch right around 2000, they put a culvert on one side of the road and on my lateral they didn’t, and when I asked why they said it was just an oversight.”

Later he was told that the city ran out of money to complete the project. This was during the previous administration.

Jackie Browning asked about the gully running between her property and her neighbor’s.

“Whose responsibility is that? Could it be concreted?

The drainage representatives didn’t have an answer about the gully. Road ditches, it turns out, are the city’s responsibility. Lateral maps for which the parish is responsible can be found on the CPPJ website. Each entity should be contacted at different numbers. (The drainage number is above. The number of DeQuincy City Hall is 786-8241.

Also addressed were questions about keeping the area between the concrete ditch (Buxton) clear of weeds and whether that is best accomplished by using weeding equipment, mowers or spraying? What is the width of the easement? Who is responsible?

Most of these issues were not settled, except to say that if the area is sprayed by residents and city workers, it should only be with a broad leaf-killing product, not with a product that kills grass which could slow erosion.

“We’ve got to educate people. We need to get educated,” said Denise Wilcox, city council chair. “We’ll have to find out where the right-of-ways are. We’re going to find out the amount we’re responsible for or they’re responsible for. Otherwise, we’ll be thinking they’re going to be doing it, and they’ll think we’re going to be doing it.”

Mayor Riley Smith said a new work order procedure should help in planning public works jobs such as cleaning out ditches and mowing or spraying the right-of-way. He noted some of the issues discussed at the meeting were already being addressed by the city. However, he acknowledged this work as a short-term fix.

“Can I just have my yard fixed, dirt hauled in or something?” asked Margie Moore. “I’d like to walk out there sometimes. I’d like to see my grandkids out there, but they’ll fall right down in a hole. I’d just like to have it fixed, and I don’t think it’s my place to do it.”

“We all have the same interest here,” Smith said. “We want this to be better. It saddens me to hear someone say they can’t walk out into their backyard. That’s not right. We want to do everything we can, and I wish we could start Monday morning. I think we are going to have to look at doing some Band-aids until we can get some things fixed. I think everyone agrees on that. We appreciate your patience. I think it’s long overdue.”