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Exhausted by frequent flooding, remaining high water, Ascension residents suggest solutions

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GONZALES - A regularly scheduled meeting of East Ascension Drainage Board Monday was packed and provided a forum for residents, fed up with flooding, to once again share their concerns with council members.

"For the last three weeks, I've accessed my home, wearing knee boots or hip boots, with the exception of last weekend," one resident told the board. I never realized what a luxury it was to wear tennis shoes to go from my pickup truck to my back door. So don't ever take that for granted.

"You have no idea the mental stress that flooding causes on a person that is 70-years-old," another resident said. 

Many of the residents choosing to speak Monday live in the Bluff Swamp area. Weeks after flooding, many like Blaine Petite, are still experiencing high water. Along with some of his neighbors, he is spearheading an effort to change that.

"They tell us, 'hey, you live in a bowl,'" Petite told the board Monday. "Well, so does New Orleans. So does Destrehan. They figure it out. [There are] ways. [There are] options.

Petite considers himself lucky. His home did not flood, but the water has transformed his backyardwhich is normally 30 acres of grasslandinto swampland.

Some of the solutions Petite and others suggested to those tasked with solving the flood-related problems include permanent pumps for Bluff Swamp and Spanish Lake.

"There are thousands of acres of detention in Spanish Lake [and] Bluff Swamp, no way to drain it," one resident said. I think we need to develop a way to drain Spanish Lake [and] Bluff Swamp into [Bayou] Manchac prior to the event that happened. If we had started pumping when I had six inches of water on the back of my property, 13 inches of rain wouldn't have flooded my house."

They also recommend re-evaluating building requirements and permanently using New River as a drainage route.

Petite wants to find a solution that doesn't negatively impact others, he says. Parish President Clint Cointment shared a similar sentiment as residents spoke out.

"I would never, and I will say this loudly and proudly, I will never push water onto anyone else in order to save someone else and flood them," Cointment said. "Never. I will never do that."

Petite and others asked the board to propose a resolution at the next drainage meeting to determine if these recommendations, or other steps, are feasible to mitigate flooding and the water that residents deal with for weeks.

"All Ascension Parish residents 'ought' to be able to use roadways, driveways, and homes after rain events," one resident said. "But that is currently not the case as water is not draining."

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