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After heavy rain made roads look like rivers, city attempting to fix outdated flooding maps
BATON ROUGE, La. - In the wake of heavy rain pounding the parish Sunday and bringing brutal impacts to floodplain communities, the city is looking to use its new flood ruling to fix drainage issues.
The impacts ranged from severe backyard flooding putting fences almost completely underwater to cars on the brink of ruin. For some major roadways, travel by boat was a more viable option than travel by car.
It didn't stop at just major roadways. For many neighborhoods, major flooding turned residential roads into rivers. For those in the Garden District, a big question was whether it was safe to simply drive home.
"Lots of water just across the street; there's some water across the street getting into someone's car, getting close to getting into their house," said a resident of the district.
The long-time resident says it's not necessarily something new.
It's something that's left him out on the street corner of Cherokee Street and Park Boulevard with his broom during heavy rains trying to control a backed-up drainage system.
"All the leaves and debris will get right into it and it clogs right up."
The effect causes concerns not only for locals inside their homes but out on the streets.
"This guy's passing, going up into somebody's yard," said the resident as we caught the moment it happened. "The way people drive in water is scary."
They've seen this level of flooding time and time again, but Sunday, the Garden District resident said it was the worst in a while. It's something the city says it's been working to better understand.
"Part of the issue was just collecting the data that was necessary," said Director of City Drainage Fred Raiford.
The city's waterways cause issues on major roadways such as Acadian Thruway near i-10. Cars risk it just to make it under the overpass near the Acadian overpass, while just down the road, a normally dry and grassy area looked more like a stream.
''FEMA's floodplain elevations were a little outdated," said Raiford. "We have a lot of new data based off of surveys that were done. We have that data now, and we can see what those new elevations are."
Residents of the Morning Glen community know it all too well. Kennan Rogge said his family has lived through several floods that have devastated their living conditions. Since the 2016 flood, they've been questioning whether or not they should stay in the area.
Raiford went on to say how updated maps could prevent flooding in the future.
"Because we have this modeling, we can show areas that are in conveyance here for how water runs through an area of property. We want to be sure there's no development in those locations that would prevent problems upstream or downstream in that waterway."
Part of it, Raiford says, is working with developments that shouldn't have been approved in the first place.
"There's certainly some developments that were approved many years ago, if we would have had this data, we probably wouldn't have done that."
As the city works out those new flood rulings, many anxiously await the next flood.
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