SLIDELL, La. - Lake Village neighborhood is still drying out from serious street flooding Friday, which stalled several cars and reached seven inches at David Dohrety's house.
"We had too much water for the kind of drainage we have in this area," he said.
The drainage, or lack thereof, has been a sour topic for many in the Slidell area for decades and was brought back into the spotlight when homes were threatened, once again, Friday.
The W-14 and W-15 canals are blamed by many for not being adequate to handle heavy rains, so much so, that they were included in the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA, 20 years ago.
“The SELA program came about after the flood in 1995, federally-funded program with local sponsors,” said Rene’ Poche’ of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Public Affairs. “Right now the entire program is funded at a little over a billion dollars."
But none of those dollars have been poured into either canal, despite studies, plans and authorization from Congress.
The W-14 project is about $23 million. It'll take three to four years to construct. What's needed now is for Congress to fund the project.
The parish says it can’t wait any longer for anyone else to do this work and leaders are going to do it their own way. St. Tammany Chief Operating Officer Gina Campo said, “We have been awarded a $10 million grant from FEMA to do improvements on the W-15 drainage canal which runs through the City of Slidell and will benefit thousands of homes of reducing the potential flooding."
That project is in design right now and currently calls for widening the middle and south portions with a large retention pond in the north. Doherty, whose home has flooded five times since 1995, finally took matters into his own hands and had his home raised late last year with the help of a federal grant.
He believes any help will make his neighborhood better for everyone, whenever it comes. The parish says it put $1 million into the W-14 canal last year, but is waiting for funding approval from FEMA to do more work. Construction on the W-15 is expected to start next year.