Rain water lingers due to slow drainage

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 20, 2010

VIDALIA — Thanks to a slow-moving drainage system, several people in Concordia Parish awoke Thursday morning to a yard still full of rain from Wednesday.

The 10-plus inches of rain that fell during the course of the day left the Vidalia canal full and draining too slowly for area residents to handle.

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said trees and debris in the area where the water in Vidalia drains too, are slowing the drainage process, causing water to take longer to make it to the pumps.

“Right now there are a lot of restrictions in the canal slowing the drainage of the water,” Copeland said. “Until these restrictions are removed, we are going to continue to have this problem.”

Copeland said the blockage is located further south in the parish.

“The water runs through Bayou Cocodrie, and since it’s not in our city but in the parish, there is nothing much we can do,” he said. “We’ve met and met many times with the police jury, and nothing has been done.”

Street Department Director Lee Staggs said the city has been in contact with federal contacts in charge of the pumps and the drainage process is moving slowly right now.

“The area where it is backed up is a Federal Waterway Section and we need permits to fix all of the debris that is in the area,” Staggs said.

Lynn Nay, a resident of Vidalia, said her residence on Ezernack Circle has a foot or more of water in the front yard, and nearly three to four feet in the back.

“It’s not going anywhere,” she said. “Something is stopped up over here, and someone from Concordia Parish needs to check to see what’s going on.”

Melvin Ferrington, president of the Concordia Parish Police Jury, said the police jury has been trying for years to get permits to clean Cocodrie to help the drainage.

“We have talked to the Corps of Engineers, the Legislature and even Congress about ways to help clear the area,” he said. “It costs a lot of money to solve this problem, and the parish just doesn’t have it.”

Ferrington said this problem is something that has been going on since he joined the police jury.

“I have been here for 19 years, and this has always been a problem we have tried to fix,” he said.

Ferrington said the drainage issue appears to be getting worse with time.

“Usually the water would be gone by now,” Nay said. “If we get any more rain, my trailer is going to be flooded.”

As for now, Ferrington said there is nothing much that can be done to help the canal drain faster.

“All the water goes through Cocodrie. It’s like the main artery,” he said. “The water can’t get out and this problem has only gotten worse with time.”

Copeland said the problem needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

“If we get any more heavy rains like the ones on Wednesday, things will just get worse,” he said. “Until the police jury can figure something out, the water will take longer and longer to drain.”