No answers in Washington Heights sewage backup

Published 12:06am Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Vidalia — A Ferriday resident representing a neighborhood of approximately 40 households pleaded with the Concordia Parish Police Jury Monday evening to help alleviate sewer issues that are presenting major health concerns.

Vernon Smith, who lives in Washington Heights subdivision in Ferriday, told jury members she was seeking solutions to an issue with the neighborhood’s sewer line, which has resulted in sewage backing up into houses and yards.

“This is a health issue for the community,” Smith said. “And we need an answer.”

Juror Jimmy Jernigan, who represents the district in which the neighborhood is located, told Smith he had looked into the issue and found the original developer of the subdivision, Kenneth Hudnall, still owned the sewer lines and an oxidation pond where all the lines empty into.

Jernigan said the board couldn’t do much to help because the lines were privately owned.

“The police jury doesn’t have anything to do with that,” Jernigan said. “We’ll help you with whatever we can do, but that’s all private.”

Juror Joe Parker said he believed Hudnall had recently filed for bankruptcy twice, and several parish agencies have been unsuccessful in locating him.

“The ball falls back in his court, but nobody is around to dribble the ball because nobody can find Kenneth Hudnall,” Parker said.

Parker, Jernigan and other jury members suggested Smith reach out to Concordia Parish health inspector Patrick Johnson, who could verify the claims of it being a health issue and take it up the ladder to larger state agencies.

Smith told the board she and Johnson had walked through the neighborhood together, and Johnson told her the sewage issue presented several major health issues for the residents.

“Everybody’s toilets are not flushing or sometimes back up into the house,” Smith said. “In some places, the sewage comes up to your ankles in the back yard.”

After further discussion, the jury approved a motion to send Johnson a letter asking for his immediate assistance in the matter and asked to copy the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

Smith asked all jury members to attend a community meeting neighborhood residents are hosting at 11 a.m. Saturday at Zion Hill Baptist Church in Clayton to discuss the issue.