Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat — U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, right, speaks with Ferriday resident Anna B. Ferguson and her son Samuel Ferguson, 9, at Vidalia Conference and Convention Center Saturday.
Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat — U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, right, speaks with Ferriday resident Anna B. Ferguson and her son Samuel Ferguson, 9, at Vidalia Conference and Convention Center Saturday.

Sen. Landrieu talks drainage at parish event

Published 12:13am Sunday, August 4, 2013

VIDALIA — U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu promised Concordia Parish residents Saturday that she would fight to improve the ongoing drainage problems in the area.

“Louisiana drains 40 percent of the continent,” Landrieu said, to a room of more than 100 residents. “I am not going to rest until the people of Louisiana can live safely and sustainably and affordably in a place we have called home since before the government of the United States was formed.”

Landrieu, D-La., met with constituents at the Vidalia Conference and Convention Center as part of a four-week tour around the state.

She began her speech by talking about her own experience with flooding.

JUSTIN SELLERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu speaks Saturday regarding drainage and clean drinking water for Concordia Parish at Vidalia Conference and Convention Center.
JUSTIN SELLERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu speaks Saturday regarding drainage and clean drinking water for Concordia Parish at Vidalia Conference and Convention Center.

She described growing up in New Orleans, 8 feet below sea level, and dealing with a flood that brought three feet of water into her neighborhood.

“From my porch, it looked like we were in the middle of a lake,” she said. “This issue doesn’t come out of a textbook. If there is one subject I know, it is this one.”

Parish officials met with Landrieu just before her speech to give her an understanding of the ongoing drainage problems Concordia Parish faces and outline plans to drain water more quickly from the northern portion of the parish.

Parish officials need more than $10 million to implement their flood control plans.

The Brushy Bayou structure is estimated to cost $4.5 million. It would be located north of U.S. 84 on the Tensas River, near Jonesville. The Black River Lake structure would cost $3.5 million and would be located further south on the Tensas River.

In addition to building the structures, the parish would also have to spend millions of dollars on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits and a watershed study.

Parish officials placed an estimate of three to four years before the drainage structures are operational at a July economic development committee meeting, but Landrieu said she hopes to secure funding more quickly.

“People were coming up to me in tears talking to me about the problems they faced,” she said.

In addition to securing funding, Landrieu said she hopes to speed up the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permitting process because the drainage project would require drilling through the levee.

“The problem is that the Corps is not dynamic enough,” she said. “Flood control is a dynamic issue.”