A heavy rain fell on Addis Town Hall on Nov. 1 as the Town Council addressed its upcoming drainage projects.
“I’ve had more water in my backyard than I’ve ever had in my life,” said Addis resident Ray Lejeune, a regular at the monthly council meetings. “There’s something about tonight.”
Outside, water pooled up and filled in the Town Hall parking lot. The sound of the rain pounding on the roof of the building was aconstant reminder of the booming town’s vulnerability to the elements.
“It seems like these ‘100 year rain events’ happen once every two or three weeks,” Addis Mayor David Toups said.
Storm drainage and sewer issues have been a problem for the once-small town, but now, with a population just under 5,300 the issues loom larger.
The town received a $3 million loan from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to help address sewer issues in Addis earlier this year.
The first of that money is planned to improve the sewer lines throughout the Addis Place subdivision.
“This area in town is the worst and we need to take care of it,” Toups said.
A bid of $356,000 was awarded to Insituform Technologies to apply a sealant in the sewer lines to prevent water intrusion (though that bill may fluctuate depending on change orders).
“All of that [intrusion] taxes your sewer plant,” Toups said. “Our sewer plant isn’t going to have to work as hard.”
Some of the older lines may need to be replaced entirely due to age, Toups said.
The mayor hopes to see the project underway before the Mississippi River rises and puts a hold on town projects (as mandated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers).
The town is also looking at $142,000 in FEMA funding to improve the roads in Sunset Place.
$72,000 of those funds will go to improve the road that a small group of homes were flooded on in August, 2016.
Additionally, the town is also looking at $11,000 to inspect and clean out the culverts leading to Sugar Hollow. The relatively new subdivision of about 70 homes regularly receives water on the streets whenever it rains in Addis, Toups said.
The town found some blockage in the culverts but is working on a plan to keep them clean, Toups said.
While the town has seen an increased focus on drainage and sewer issues during its peak development, Toups said the town’s geography is also somewhat to blame. The farther west some the subdivisions are, the worse the drainage becomes, he said.
“Whenever it rains by the river, it all goes west. It’s got to go through the highway, the first set of railroad tracks, the second set of railroad tracks and into the canal,” before draining out of the town, Toups said.
Councilman Tait Acosta suggested compiling a drainage study across the whole town.