On Monday morning, between roughly 1:30 a.m. and 5 a.m., much of Livingston Parish was inundated with roughly 5-6 inches of water due to a spring storm.

This particular storm erupted out of a collision between extremely warm, moist air coming out of the Gulf of Mexico and a cool front falling out of the Rocky Mountains.

The result was a laser-light show of epic proportions - lightning, thunder, wind fast enough to create tornadoes, hail ... you name a particular weather phenomenon, this storm probably had it.

The fallout, however, was a little different and should be described with much less zeal.

A tornado killed a woman and her child in Breaux Bridge - not to mention all the damage various tornadoes caused in central and southeastern Louisiana.

Thankfully, this time, Livingston Parish was able to avoid the tornadoes.

However, there is another problem - flash flooding got to several homes that flooded in August, not to mention the Amite and Comite rivers did not crest until mid-week.

Much like August, this storm cell dumped water along the entire Amite and Comite River basins, so some minor flooding could be expected.

Aside from the fatalities, there’s a much more human element to the storm that isn’t being touched upon enough - fear.

It’s understandable for people in and around the Baton Rouge area. It seems as if, for the past four years, the weather has become more and more extreme in Louisiana.

But that fear doesn’t necessarily come from the weather alone - citizens of the Bayou State have been lauded for their ability to pick up the pieces and bounce back.

No, the fear - and make no mistake, the flooding - emerges from the fact that nothing has been done to curb these problems.

In September, Congress approved $1.6 billion to find its way into Louisiana homes to help with recovery. To date, that money has not found its way into a single resident’s bank account.

Its politics as usual, with D.C. blaming the locals and the locals blaming D.C.

Gov. John Bel Edwards formed a task force, which traveled the state to hold committee meetings to see what locals needed. That task force is still holding meetings and summits, and in the meantime Louisiana residents who could not afford to repair their homes got the “new-and-improved” FEMA trailer - the mobile housing unit.

Combined with the “Shelter at Home” program, if ever there was a waste of taxpayer money... these were they.

The housing units were three time as large as FEMA trailers, and cost nearly four times the amount, on average, it would cost to fix a home. Where, then, will they go after? If indeed they disappear at all.

The Shelter at Home program faded into obscurity after rampant criticism.

Make no mistake, people needed - and still need - a place to live, but the housing units appear to be a massive sink in funds that completely disregard long-term solutions to the problem. Especially when those homes, which sit gutted and unused, continue to fall apart when the cost of the housing unit could have been cut, and those funds used to repair the home itself.

What are long-term solutions to Louisiana’s problems? Well, it starts with drainage.

Louisiana is America’s drain, pure and simple. The Mississippi River is referred to as the “Father of Waters” because no less than four major rivers - which span states themselves - filter into it before it reaches Baton Rouge.

As the Army Corps of Engineers struggles to control the behemoth river south of New Orleans, other waterways - which flood much more easily - are forgotten.

For instance, Livingston Parish has more than 500 miles of navigable waterways. That’s 500 miles of very flood-ready waters, and doesn’t include the hundreds more miles of drainage ditches and creeks which could just as easily bust their banks (and did in August).

There’s no doubt that local gravity drainage districts are doing the best they can with what they have, but new neighborhoods spring up inside this parish every day - bringing new water direction challenges almost hourly.

Yet, citizens as well as politicians are clamoring to improve the infrastructure situation in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas. It’s a notable goal, because both cities have traffic problems that make Atlanta, Ga. and Washington, D.C. blush, but what good is improved infrastructure when the land around it continues to flood?

And, as is the case with I-12 and a few other state and federal highways which are raised up to avoid flooding, how do you combat new roads which act as dams?

Where is the Darlington Reservoir? The Comite Diversion? These projects, like the Shelter at Home program, have faded into the background.

Now, Edwards is trying to raise taxes in a climate where trust in the government is low, and major drainage projects - mega-projects, due to their cost - take a back seat to new roads and bridges.

Maybe one day these drainage fixes will materialize, at both a large and small scale, but how many more spring storms must we weather? How many more August floods?

Until politicians can agree, and spend wisely, and after that understand every road must come with the appropriate drainage, citizens of Louisiana will continue to fear the rain.

(2) comments

SuzieQ

Is the Darlington Reservoir even a consideration? To me, it would be a win-win for everyone. A great recreation area plus a definite flood control measure that would eliminate the flooding problem. Yes. WE LIVE IN FEAR. People who have the authority to do something about this....FIX IT!!!

BigBob

The Darlington project has been on the books for 40 years...it was killed by a small number of landowners in St. Helena who fought it tooth and nail...I remember the names of those who fought it, but it serves no purpose to publicize them...most are dead and gone....and their survivors still have the land...it still doesn't flood, they still do not wish to sell it...so much for eminent domain for the greater good,

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