Dozens of Calcasieu residents aired their grievances to the Police Jury’s drainage board this week after flooding issues arose from last month’s unexpected heavy rainfall.
Members of the public echoed one another with testimonies of damaged property, floodwater and drainage issues that have plagued many for years.
“I don’t want to beat a dead horse about flooding — we all know it floods, right? We normally don’t flood, but that water came up four feet and stayed there an additional 10 hours after the rain. My problem is this: why are we always such a reactive city? Why can’t we be proactive about anything?” said one citizen who mentioned that the Ward 3 pumps are the same that were there in 1950, an issue due to how the city has grown in 50-60 years.
One father recounted how he took his four children from the house once the floodwaters came in and guided them to safety by having them afloat in a blow-up pool while he walked through water filled with sewage.
Others told stories of elderly parents stuck inside their homes who waited hours for rescue on May 17.
“We need to know that we’re being heard. I haven’t seen my mayor step in this meeting. I haven’t seen my parish officials step in this meeting. Those are our representatives! We shouldn’t have to be up here crying out for help. They’re supposed to be in here demanding help,” said Lydia Larks.
Another resident agreed.
“I know nothing about drainage, but we’ve got to hear from our leaders declaring that this is going to be a solved problem,” said the business owner.
“There are some heartbreaking stories out here tonight,” said Austin Hebert of Big Lake Road.
People spoke on the drastic levels of flooding they experienced, a handful stating that before this their homes had never flooded.
Even more spoke of how the city of Lake Charles looks unattractive and mentioned concerns of those leaving the community due to flooding.
“I have been meeting with the mayor and with the parish. I commend everybody that came up here and spoke tonight — we heard some very heart-wrenching stories, said Gravity District No. 4 Superintendent Michael Wittler. “When I drive around this area and I see the same things that you folks are seeing, I see the trash still on the streets … it’s very depressing. I know you don’t want me to say that I hear you and I feel your pain, but I do.”
Wittler said the board is “working diligently” daily trying to remove the debris.
“We’re working diligently and daily with the officials that are controlling the money, trying to get it down here,” he said. “It’s not an easy answer, but we’re working towards an answer.”