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Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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City-parish officials confirm plans for flood risk reduction in 2020

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BATON ROUGE - As the saying goes: when it rains, it pours. And in Baton Rouge, it flash floods.

“We are cleaning storm drains and boxes every day, whether rainy or not. We have crews and that's all they do,” said Fred Raiford, EBR director of transportation and drainage.

According to city-parish officials, crews were in position Wednesday night, so they were already on-site in the parish's problem areas.

“I was out until at least 9:30 last night, checking areas and receiving phone calls and talking to people. And most of them told me, ‘we got a lot of rain very quickly."

Although crews saw some street flooding due to the heavy downpours throughout the night, officials met with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers the following morning, getting the all-clear to get started on the EBR Flood Risk Reduction Project. According to Raiford, it will reduce flooding and overflow in the Amite River Basin.

According to local officials, the years-long project will make improvements to the drainage system without any significant impact downstream to neighboring parishes.

“Because of these projects, I think that will help remove some of the standing water issues that we have day-to-day once these projects are completed. Certainly it’s going to reduce the flood risk in our parish,” Raiford said.

When it is completed, the project would make improvements to nearly 70 miles of water channels. It will take years to finish, but it's also been years in the making.

“This is really significant from my stand point, something that's been long overdue for 25 to 30 years. Federal funds we couldn't get, we finally get the federal dollar,” he said.

If you see water rising and are not sure if the pumps are working, EBR says it might drain slow, but it will go.

“People say, ‘hey my storm drain might not be working because it's coming up very quick.’ Then I say, ‘well is it going away?’ Then, they say, ‘yeah it’s going’ and I say, ‘then the system is functioning,” Raiford explained.

The EBR Flood Risk Reduction Project is set to get underway in Spring 2020.

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