Drainage lateral debris removal progressing

Published 8:00 am Saturday, June 18, 2022

Calcasieu Parish Director of Engineering and Public Works Allen Wainwright reported on the status of debris removal from drainage laterals and spoke on the parish-wide watershed management plan at the West Cal Chamber of Commerce meeting on Thursday.

It is a long-range plan that’s been in place with a lot of moving parts since 2015 “to enhance the stewardship and protection of the community’s drainage watershed resources in a comprehensive and responsive manner.”

Thus far, the program has advanced to modeling, and data has been input to produce/forecast/visualize how rain and/or floods currently impact, flow, disperse or stand in the 12 watersheds of the parish.

Wainwright said the program is in the fourth of five phases.

“Really, right now we’re in a key part of it, which is getting the information that we’ve gathered out there.”

He showed the group a visual based on data input and modeling. It showed where water could flow or accumulate in a particular rain event. Businesses and houses were represented in yellow that could be impacted by the proposed flooding scenario and suggested solutions that have yet to be decided on, such as a local buyout for properties that have been flooded repeatedly, pumping stations, flat gates and detention ponds.

“No one item is a silver bullet,” Wainwright said. “We want to run some things by everyone to get some feedback.”

The first webinar to educate residents and give them a chance for input was aired recently and is available on the police jury’s website. The next webinar will air for the first time on Aug. 3.

Some of the projects will be huge in scope and cost. Wainwright compared it to the building of the Lake Charles I-10 bridge.

The parish has about 1,800 miles of laterals out there, according to Wainwright. Removing hurricane debris from those laterals, many of which were hard to access or had to be accessed by boat, was tough work. Six to eight teams work daily to remove debris.

Debris removal was prioritized. Forty percent of the work is complete on 506 miles of laterals. About 17 percent of the work is complete on the 221 miles of laterals in Phase 2.

“I’d like to finish overnight,” Wainwright said, but it’s a three-year effort.”

About 43 percent of the work is complete on the third and fourth phases of the debris removal plan, which covers 620 miles of laterals.

FEMA funds will cover 90 percent of the cost of the cleanup, but the ticket could be as high as $400 million, leaving the parish the responsibility for 10 percent of the cost.

Also at the meeting, Margaret Harris, customer service manager at Entergy, announced her retirement and introduced her replacement Lorena Caesar, an 18-year veteran.

Joe Andepont, Calcasieu Parish Police Juror and Community and Government Affairs Principal, announced the addition of former Southwest Daily News reporter Heather White to the department.