William Daniel, infrastructure division director for Ascension, said they are not just standing around while they wait on federal approvals.
“We have hired engineering firms. We’ve evaluated different projects and we think we’ve come up with a lot of good drainage projects that are very soundly engineered,” he added.
The only thing that is missing, Daniel said, is the funds. Ascension Parish did apply for two projects through Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Both are for upgrades at area pump stations, including one at the Marvin Braud location and the other at the Conway Bayou location.
Daniel said both would definitely make a difference in the parish. He said the Marvin Braud levee was over-topped back in 2016. The current project would lift it about five feet, which Daniel believes would have kept several homes dry.
“If we had had that built today or back then, they would not have over-topped,” Daniel said.
Both projects are still under review though more than a year after they were submitted to the federal government. Daniel said, for now, their hands are tied.
“Yeah, we’ve put in the work and now we’re just waiting to find out about the results,” he added.
While they have not been able to move forward on those mitigation projects, Daniel said, for now, they are focused on maintaining what they have. Apart from the federal dollars that the parish is waiting on, he said taxpayers across the parish have invested about $100 million in drainage over the last 70 years. He said most of that money is due to a dedicated drainage tax parish-wide.
“We have put our money where our mouth is and put up our own tax dollars to build these systems,” Daniel said.