Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Baton Rouge residents ran drainage crew out of neighborhood while they worked on forgotten 311 request

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BATON ROUGE - Jerry Cargile and Richard Oram says they woke up Friday morning to crews cleaning the ditch in front of Cargile's home, with plans to create a new ditch on the other side of his driveway.

"They used a back-hoe, scraped up the dirt and hauled it off," Cargile said.

It's an effort to improve drainage — something many people here plead for. In this instance, they say it's a waste of money since they had no issues.

The two men sat in lawn chairs in protest. Workers packed up and left since the men wouldn't get out of their way.

"Drainage is perfect as left by the developer in 1975. Given a little silt here and there, but not necessarily needing ditching," Cargile said.

So why did a crew show up? According to Cargile, they were asked to.

"That was probably a result of someone in this subdivision making a phone call about drainage, but we don't know who that was," Cargile said.

Turns out that someone was Cargile.

The homeowner made a 311 request half a decade ago in 2017 to get the ditch in front of his home cleaned out. He included pictures.

"It showed dirt, which silted up on the lower part of the ditch and then grass grew up in the silt. That's what you see in the record the city-parish has. I cleaned that out myself," Cargile said.

City-parish officials say Cargile's request from five years ago is one of 2,750 311 service requests they are just now getting to with the help of American Rescue Plan cash. So far, they have completed just over 1,000.

Cargile says he only remembered making that request after we showed him a copy of it. He says he was upset no one followed up before sending crews, since during the long wait, he cleaned the ditch himself.

"Just make a harmless phone call," Cargile said.

He says there are other areas needing the drainage improvements more than he does.

Metro Councilmember Dwight Hudson showed up once he heard about all this confusion. He tells WBRZ he is cancelling the rest of the work that is supposed to take place.

If anyone has made a request for work they no longer need, they can call 311 to cancel it.


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