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Bayou St. John tops its banks after too much water let in from Lake Pontchartrain

Drainage could last into Thursday morning.

NEW ORLEANS — Wading through water and ducks Wednesday morning, New Orleans Rowing Club coach Emily Gass had to check on equipment after getting a call that water from Bayou St. John was overflowing.

“It was panic. We wanted to know if the boats were OK,” Gass said. “We just went through a lot with Hurricane Ida and getting a lot of repairs, so we weren’t really ready to take on another one quite yet.”

Along the entire stretch of Bayou St. John, water either touched the top of the banks or went over them. Where the Rowing Club keeps equipment, near Soldiers and Fortress streets, water was flowing into the streets.

“The lake levels came up higher than expected,” said Dir. Of Engineering with the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East Chris Humphreys.

Humphreys says work crews opened the valves at Lake Pontchartrain Tuesday because the water level in the bayou was low.

“Our crews keep watch on the bayou to keep the water at a sweet spot that the residents along the bayou like and we’ve learned over the years what’s too high or too low,” Humphreys said.

By Wednesday morning, Humphreys says too much water was let in.

“Once we were made aware of it, we shut it off and contacted sewerage and water board to help us out,” Humphreys said.

The Sewerage and Water Board began the slow process of draining the water out.

“It just a large body of water. It takes some time through these pipes to get the water level down,” Humphreys said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Humphreys didn’t have any reports of structural damage to homes.

“There’s been water in lawns, I think was the extent of it,” Humphreys said.

It’s a little different for the Rowing Club.

“All of our PFD’s were submerged underwater and our electric launch motor was under water. So, I’m taking that home, going to try to dry it out,” Gass said. “It would be great if we had an actual enclosed boathouse, especially for situations like this.”

As of late Wednesday afternoon, drainage was still happening and could last into Thursday morning.

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