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EBR says it's short-staffed, maintenance department full of vacancies

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BATON ROUGE - There's some new insight into why East Baton Rouge couldn't get a jump on the heavy rain and flooding last week. The city has been saying it doesn't have enough workers to clear drainage ditches and canals.

The city-parish says the vacancies have existed for years, long before the current administration. The Department of Public Works currently has 186 funded vacancies. Of those, 60 are within the Department of Maintenance, and 26 of those 60 falls under Drainage Maintenance jobs. 

The city-parish says it's constantly looking to fill those positions. The parish says it offers competitive salaries when compared to jobs in the private sector. Many of these positions require a heavy equipment operator license.

This week, 2 On Your Side focused on a DIY project that's getting a lot of attention. Stanley Livingston is tired of flooding and has taken on a big job of cleaning out a section of Dawson Creek behind his street.

"I decided that hey if the city's not going to do anything I'm going to cut them down," he said.

In the process, Livingston has cut down and cleared more than 200 trees from Dawson Creek.

Last week in Jefferson Terrace, where dozens of homes flooded, Jeff Liberty found a blockage in the drainage ditch behind his house.

"I just came to see what might have happened, why I might have flooded," Liberty said.

He wonders if that blockage wasn't there would he have gotten that inch of water in his house. The parish came out the next day to clear the blocked drainage ditch.

In May 2019, 2 On Your Side was told then that there were about 200 vacancies within the Department of Public Works. Sharon Bell experienced the shortage then.

"He said that they're low on workers and that they got a backup," Bell said.

Some wonder if that's why Baton Rouge citizens are now taking on bigger projects themselves.

Wednesday, 2 On Your Side went on a tour with the city-parish to take a look at projects the Department of Maintenance has been doing. They included clearing blocked culverts and removing a tree from Dawson Creek.

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