WATSON – Ricky Rowe now becomes worried every time he hears of a severe weather threat.
The resident of Jones Estates Subdivision watched his home take in one foot of water in August 2016. His fears of a repeat nearly came to fruition early Monday.
“Unless you’ve flooded, you don’t know what it is every time we get a severe weather threat,” Rowe said. “It’s like you relive it again, before it even happens.
“You just wonder what you’re going to do,” he said. “It’s pretty perplexing.”
Two other Watson homes took in flood water. Across Livingston parish, the storm forced temporary closure of more than 30 roadways and shut down public schools Monday, all of which reopened Tuesday.
Rowe’s home was about 90 percent complete when the water seeped through his front door. It spread about four feet before he stopped it.
He contained it quickly enough and dried the home with humidifiers and a Shop-Vac quickly enough to prevent water damage.
“It could’ve been really bad,” Rowe said. “Fortunately, I don’t think it’s going to be that bad of a setback.”
Drainage issues are nothing new to Rowe, a construction estimator who serves as president of the Jones Estate Homeowners Association.
He and other homeowners have grappled with drainage issues over the last 20 years.
“It seems like it’s occurring more often now than it did, say ten years ago,” Rowe said. “I think it’s because of the amount of construction and subdivisions going out there and because we’re in a flood district, they elevate the houses as much as they can, and it pushes water further south.”
Harrison Creek, which drains along the area, is used as a central drainage point to all the subdivisions in the Watson community.
Rowe said he has sought help over the years, but it took the August flood to get a further look from parish officials.
“I’ve been in constant contact with the drainage district and the parish to reach some sort of a resolve to keep that water from building up in there,” Rowe said. “Up until the last year, they have pretty much not done anything other than clean ditches, but now they’ve done a study on our subdivision in the last few months.
“They don’t ignore you,” he said. “They just don’t do anything, and I think it’s mainly because of the funds.”
The infrastructure, as far as drainage, is not keeping up with the housing developments out there.
“They have so many entities involved … drainage district with creek, the parish with ditches and state being involved with main highway (La. 16), with major culverts they’re supposed to maintain and haven’t been able to,” Rowe said. “I understand it’s mostly about money, whether the state or parish as enough money to do what needs to be done, but hopefully with all the federal disaster funds the government will give the parish, we’re hoping they’ll do something.
“That’s our hope … we don’t know for sure, but that’s our hope,” he said.
Rowe believes homeowners in his area would support a drainage tax if it provided extra protection from the flooding he endured during the weekend and August 2016.
“When you look at the amount of money you pay in deductibles on insurance compared to a tax, I think it would at least equal out,” he said. “And without all the mental suffering, anxiety, depression, everything that goes on with it.”
He said he does not plan to move from the subdivision, drainage tax or no drainage tax.
Rowe said he loves his community and does not feel he and other residents should be forced run away from the problem.
“People on the outside ask why we don’t just move away, but it’s not that simple,” he said. “We don’t believe it’s our fault just because we choose to we stay here.
“Even the residents who don’t flood have problems with sanitation, toilets don’t flush, things like that,” Rowe said. “It’s just a compounding issue.”
The flooding brought water into two other homes in Watson and forced closure of more than 30 roadways in Livingston Parish, which continues the recovery process from two floods last year and a series of tornadoes in February.
The same storm spawned a tornado in the St. Martin Parish city of Breaux Bridge, which killed a 3-year-old girl and her mother when the funnel cloud routed their mobile home.
“It could’ve been much worse here in Livingston Parish,” said Mark Harrell, Director of the Livingston Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Development.