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Flooding increase leads to potential solutions

Graffiti Alley

A movement to dredge the Vermilion River believes that major floods in the southern regions of Louisiana have caused — and will increasingly continue to cause — devastating damage to cities within the Vermilion River’s watershed.

“Dredge the Vermilion,” is focused on efforts to reduce flooding within the Acadiana region. The movement research is based on the history of flooding in Louisiana, and claims that by dredging the Vermilion there will be a positive impact on local and regional flooding.

According to the website, efforts executed in the ‘50s to dredge the Vermilion (and complete several other drainage projects) were effective in preventing major floods until the flood of Aug. 2016.

Three major floods occurred in the watershed, leading up to dredging the Vermilion in the ‘50s. Dredge the Vermilion is concerned whether the residents of the area will have to face more catastrophic flooding before action is taken.

“Will we have to experience two more major floods before we take action?” the website reads.

The proposed plan includes the following steps:

“First, divert as much water as possible out of the watershed … manage to utilize natural retention areas … increase the efficiency of the existing in-watershed rivers and tributaries and existing controls to move the remaining water into the Gulf of Mexico.”

Managing flood waters is a priority for local and regional communities. In 2017, the reallocation of an existing tax provided $9 million to shift the focus and efforts on projects that had been paused due to low funding (an additional $2.5 million was allocated for drainage maintenance).

Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux and the Public Works Department identified 77 drainage maintenance jobs that had been deferred and in need of repair (the estimated cost for the maintenance projects was $31 million or more).

27 of the 77 projects were listed as a priority, and maintenance was possible with the $9 million of allocated funds. A list of these projects and their status is available on the Capital Projects Dashboard.

Candidates for this year’s Lafayette Mayor-President are addressing flooding and drainage within the city and proposing various ideas for drainage and flood prevention.

Lafayette Consolidated Government urges its citizens to be aware of flood zones and to be prepared for any flooding event.

Recently, FEMA flood maps of the city were updated to re-evaluate the high-risk areas for flooding. The maps show that many parts of Lafayette parish are considered flood zones.

Although the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s campus is not within a flood zone, the campus is surrounded by major flooding areas to the south and southeast of campus.

During seasonal rainfall, locations on campus experience mild flooding in high traffic areas like sidewalks parking lots.

Dijel Fuselier, a senior in the biology program, attends her classes in Billeaud Hall and this year she has to walk to Griffin hall by passing behind Madison Hall.

Fuselier said that many people find that path to be particularly annoying, especially with unpredictable weather.

“You can walk to class perfectly fine and by the time it’s over, you’re walking in like 2 inches of water,” Fuselier said. “And now your socks are soaked because you didn’t wear rain boots since rain was not on the forecast. From Billeaud to Griffin is utter hell.”

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Office of Sustainability has already planted 3,000 native plant seeds to maintain healthy souls and reduce flooding — they are currently searching for more solutions.

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