Concordia weathers flooding

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 2, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. – More than 6 inches of rain fell in Concordia Parish Thursday night and early Friday morning, causing yards, streets and a few houses in low-lying areas to flood.

&uot;This is the most rain I’ve ever seen us get in this short a time, except for when there’s a hurricane,&uot; said Concordia Parish Civil Defense Director Morris White, who has been a civil defense worker for more than 30 years.

Perhaps the hardest-hit area was Louisiana 15 near U.S. 84 in Ferriday. Inmate crews and neighbors hauled in sandbags from the nearby Concordia Parish Correctional Facility early Friday morning, but several houses in that area still flooded.

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&uot;Everything on the floor … was lost,&uot; said Johnnie Brown, who, along with friend Elijah Banks, was hauling rugs and other water-logged items from Brown’s house Friday afternoon.

&uot;Stuff in the closets, some books, even some valuables were lost. And I&160;still have three to four inches of water in my house,&uot; he said. &uot;But the water’s receding, and the worst may be over – if it doesn’t rain again soon.&uot;

Some neighbors, like Ronnie Watkins, were luckier. &uot;The water reached up into the carport but didn’t get into the house,&uot;&160;Watkins said. &uot;We’re lucky – some folks got water in their kitchens.&uot;

Virtually all low-lying areas of the flat parish had standing water Friday. Those areas included Levens Addition and U.S. 84 west of Ferriday, U.S. 65 south of Clayton and Moose Lodge and Airport roads near Vidalia, where small ponds formed overnight in low lots.

Inmate crews sandbagged about 150 homes scattered throughout Concordia Parish. &uot;We saved a lot of people&uot; from having to evacuate their homes, White said.

&uot;I’d say the water’s about 6 to 7 inches deep in my back yard,&uot; said Willis A. Lee, who lives south of Clayton.

Lee pointed in the direction of land that, on Friday, looked more like a marsh than a yard. Water reached halfway up the tires of his neighbor’s car. &uot;It’s the worst (flooding) I’ve seen in about 30 years,&uot;&160;Lee said.

James Earl Whittington, who lives at the corner of Moose Lodge and Roundtree roads, sloshed through water halfway up to his knees to get to the front door of his house with his groceries.

&uot;But it was all the way across my driveway this morning, though, so the water’s gone down somewhat,&uot; he said.

&uot;And (standing water) should be gone tomorrow if we don’t get any more rain.&uot;

Concordia Parish Police Jury workers recently cleaned out the ditch that runs next to Whittington’s house, and water runs off nearby land more quickly as a result, he said.

&uot;The water used to get up into my shed,&uot;&160;Whittington said, pointing to an elevated shed next to his house.

The Vidalia Canal, that town’s main drainage canal, was rapidly moving rainwater to the south end of the parish but was still full as of Friday afternoon.

Areas of Vidalia that usually flood experienced street flooding and were barricaded by police Thursday night, including Apple and nearby streets and Nichols, Lee and Miranda streets.

Yards also flooded along Gregory, Firmin and Charles streets, said Police Chief Billy Hammers.

But in most cases, the water had receded from Vidalia’s streets as of Friday afternoon, leaving only leaves and other small debris in roads and along the edges of yards.

&uot;The water barely got into my front yard this time,&uot;&160;said Reggie Walker, who lives on the corner of Miranda Street and Simonton Lane, an area that usually floods with heavy rains.

Recent improvements to a nearby ditch probably helped move rainwater that temporarily flooded those streets, Walker said.

Only a handful of people in Concordia Parish had to move from their houses due to the storm – not enough to open shelters, said Red Cross personnel based in Alexandria.

Concordia Parish &uot;is shaped like a bowl,&uot;&160;and residents are somewhat used to floods and less likely than residents of other areas to vacate their houses, White said.

&uot;In a rural community like we have here, people aren’t going to leave their homes for just anything,&uot; White said.

In Catahoula Parish, only Rock and Ratcliff roads near Sicily Island were covered by water, according to the Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s Office.

No other damage was reported in Concordia and nearby parishes, and no power outages were reported, according to local power companies.