Drainage issues, hurricane recovery discussed

By Cyndi Sellers

Drainage issues and hurricane recovery occupied most of the Cameron Parish Police Jury’s time on Friday, Aug. 6. A conceptual plan for controlling flooding along Marshall Street in Cameron was presented by Leonard Harper, of Lonnie Harper and Associates. Harper identified three outlets to the river: the old ferry landing, Rex Street, and Davis Road. He said tidal fluctuation is not very conducive to outflow, and neither is sediment buildup in drains. Future sea level rise will further complicate the drainage problem.

In a very preliminary fashion, Harper described using wet wells to hold more water as it drains, and pumps to move water into the river. Water would be re-directed in some places for better flow. The water comes from two sources. High water on Marshall Street is due to tidal forces. Those systems belong to DOTD. High water in the marshes east of Davis Road is usually caused by heavy rain. This drainage area will need permits from DEQ.

Harper plans to meet with Gravity Drainage District #3 and DOTD to further discuss the planned changes. The Jury approved a Time and Material contract with Harper and Associates to move forward with the planning phase.

Jurors also approved a budget allocation to proceed with permitting for flood mitigation for Little Chenier and Chenier Perdue. Of the five options under consideration, four were approved: 1. Kings Bayou – pump and canal improvements; 2. Humble Canal – drainage improvements with 16-barrel structure; 4. North Canal – drainage improvements with pump and water control structure; and 5. Berm North of Little Chenier – a four-mile berm looked favorably upon by DNR and LDWF, as opposed to a 14-mile berm. These projects are designed to “alleviate and reduce flood stress” on the southern part of the Parish.

Options 1 and 5 will receive priority when money becomes available. Getting the permits now will make the project “shovel ready” when funds are being given out.

Recovery Issues

The Cemetery Task Force is still working to find and retrieve caskets that floated out of cemeteries during Hurricane Laura. Parish Administrator Katie Armentor said a helicopter hired with a budget allocation flew last week.

A new culvert cleaner has been ordered to address clogged drainage around the parish and parts are on order for one of the old ones. One culvert cleaner is now in working order and on the job, said Emily Mock, Public Works Supervisor.

Private Property Debis Removal is closer to reality. proposals for contractors will be received in September, then eligible properties will be identified. Staff is trying to contact owners who may be eligible but have not yet applied. Staff is also still collecting applications for elevation grants in case money is allocated in the future to raise houses.
FEMA Housing is nearly all in place. Of 187 applications only two were left, and they should be housed by this week. Now the question is whether the occupants will be able to purchase their FEMA units after the18 month period runs out in February. It depends on where they are located.

Those living in mobile homes located in X zones will receive a letter at some point offering a purchase plan. Those living in Special Flood Zones should be given an offer to purchase but will have to elevate. No decision has been made about travel trailers and RV ‘s. After Feb. 22, 2022, there may be a fee to stay in FEMA housing.