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|OPPJ tells engineer to pursue funding for drainage, flood control projects|
Parish engineer Don Harrison will seek state grant funding to help with drainage and flood control projects throughout the parish, the Ouachita Parish Police Jury decided.
Police juror Mack Calhoun requested that the police jury give Harrison the authority to pursue state funding for drainage and flood control projects. Meeting at the police jury's regular meeting, jurors agreed unanimously.
Calhoun said there were drainage concerns throughout the parish. He believes the police jury can secure state funding to correct the problems.
During heavy downpours caused by Hurricane Gustav earlier this month, one drainage canal in Calhoun's district flooded seven homes.
"That needs to be looked at," Calhoun said.
Harrison said a statewide flood control program will fund 90 percent of construction costs for flood control projects. That equates to about 70 percent of a project's total cost, Harrison said. The police jury would have to fund the remaining 30 percent.
"Other than FEMA grants, which you may or may not get, that's the only funding source I'm aware of for drainage and flooding projects," Harrison said.
Harrison would need to determine which areas in the parish have the worst drainage and flooding problems.
If the police jury secures state grant funding, the parish could use money set aside for drainage concerns to tackle flood control projects.
"We just need some grants," Calhoun said. "We've got money now to do some work in some of our areas."
On a related note, the city of West Monroe asked the police jury to assist with a drainage issue near Ike Hamilton Expo Center.
"This may be one of the same problems that Mr. Calhoun mentioned," Harrison explained. "But from what I understand, an area near the Ike drains down through part of the developed portion of city property."
He said the water eventually drains through the parish into Black Bayou.
"They want to work with the police jury for a solution to that problem through that whole channel," Harrison said.
"I know there have been some businesses that have flooded as a result of that," he added.
Police jury president Walt Caldwell made the motion to authorize Harrison to look into the problem near the Ike. However, he said the police jury would not commit to helping the city of West Monroe financially until Harrison reports his findings to the police jury.