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After fire at vital Ascension pumping station, leaders say parish is prepared

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UPDATE: A parish spokesperson said Tuesday that the pumping station was able to operate safely over the weekend. Read more here.

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SORRENTO - A major pumping station in Ascension Parish was seen billowing smoke after the area was pounded with brief but torrential rain Friday morning, prompting parish officials to shut it down.

Parish President Clint Cointment told WBRZ that a mechanical problem caused three engines to catch fire at the Marvin Braud Pumping Station in Sorrento. Officials initially said the station was still operating but later announced that it was out of service so workers could assess the damage.

Though the station will be down a few pumps for now, Cointment said there's no need to worry if the area is hit by rain in the coming weeks. 

"We'll be a little more proactive on the front-end, forecasting... since we won't have as many pumps," Cointment said. "You've got to remember, we have seven pumps for a reason. It is for this very purpose. We can be down two or three."

"We are prepared for it," Cointment added.

The station provides flood control for most of the parish, including St. Amant, Gonzales, Sorrento, southern Prairieville, Geismer, and southern Dutchtown.

Cointment added that the problems at the station did not contribute to street flooding in parts of the area, and that high water is inevitably going to pool on some roads when large rain totals drop in a short amount of time.

"We're gonna have this issue when we get four to five inches of rain. It's just gonna happen until that can drain off," Cointment explained. "A lot of subdivisions designed today are so that the roads are the drainage ditches, their curb and gutter."

The parish said workers opened all gate valves at the station to allow the gravity drainage system to activate while the station is powered down. 

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