Berwick residents say flooding is a new trend

BERWICK, La. — Officials here know there is a flooding problem in Country Club Estates, but they have yet to define it. Residents who attended the Berwick Town Council meeting Tuesday want to know what is going to be done.

With the 5.5 inches of rain that fell on the Tri-City area Sunday came flooded streets and homes. It’s a new trend for the area, according to Snead Street resident Stan Beauboeuf.

“In the last couple of years, things have drastically changed in that neighborhood. I’ve been in that house for 32 years and never, ever once got water in my house. In the last two years, I’ve gotten water in the back of my house, the back bedroom, three times,” Beauboeuf said.

Beauboeuf said neighbor Frank Lipari has been in his home since 1972 and got water in his house for the first time Sunday.

“In that 42 years and in that 32 years, we have had lots and lots of 5-inch rain. We’ve had bigger rains than 5 inches and people haven’t gotten water in their house,” Beauboeuf said.

He and his neighbors understand how the drainage works in Country Club, he said. They also understand that when there is a heavy rain in a short timeframe, street flooding will occur, he said.

“Before, if you’d get a 15 minute break in a steady downpour, the street would clear out enough to give you some more room and now it stays up. It does not go down … I understand about a lot of rain in a little while. I understand that but I also understand that when things are completely different, then something is drastically wrong somewhere and it needs to be addressed because we can’t live like that. If it rains 5 inches, everybody on our street is in a panic,” Beauboeuf said.

Beauboeuf asked whether the town had inspected all of the pipes from the outfalls to the Pattie Drive ditch. Mayor Louis Ratcliff said that will be done Monday.

“Doggone guys!” Beauboeuf said. “I’ve been complaining about this for two years and we haven’t done that? That is water under the bridge, in a manner of speaking, but something is bad wrong there. It’s bad wrong.”

Beauboeuf also had a word of warning for those who go around barricades and drive through flooded streets.

“What’s gonna happen is somebody’s gonna be out there and somebody’s gonna come rippin’ down the street and somebody’s gonna go grab him and yank him out of the truck,” Beauboeuf said.

Several residents in the audience agreed with the prediction.

Kristi Petrie on Hogan Street said three-quarters of her home is flooded right now and is unlivable, she said.

“It’s a lot of money and it’s very inconvenient, especially when you have children,” Petrie told the council.

Her home flooded in 2011 and would have flooded six weeks ago if it weren’t for some Berwick High School senior boys who were throwing the water out for them, Petrie said.

Her flooding is coming from the golf course, she said. The ditch there fills up in a matter of minutes before spilling over, she said.

Brandy Smith, also of Hogan Street, concurred with the assessment that their problems are coming from the golf course.

When the golf course drains, it’s like a river, she said, washing away soil, trees and her property with it, Smith said.

The water goes through yards, down their driveway and down Hogan Street, she said. Smith also said the town told her three years ago that the ditch in the area belongs to the golf course and was theirs to maintain.

“It’s solely for the Country Club golf course and it’s their property. Their property meets our property. Their property is taking away our property and causing flooding in other people’s property. There’s gotta be something that we can do. From the back road to Hogan Street, the entire property drains to Hogan Street. That’s a heck of a lot of property to drain to us,” Smith said.

A dozen residents from Palmer, Hogan, Snead and Jones streets spoke.

Mayor Louis Ratcliff apologized to the residents that the town didn’t study the problem sooner.

“The buck stops with me on the lateness of us getting involved,” Ratcliff said.

“We thought six weeks ago starting at the pump station and working north (to clean out ditches) would solve our problem,” he said. “It hasn’t. Monday we met with our engineer … to discuss the problem — we can see it’s a problem — to gather information as to what caused that flooding besides a five-inch rain in a few hour period,” Ratcliff said.

He added that the group discussed the surge coming from Country Club. The engineer has to wait for elevations to find out “how the land lays,” Ratcliff said.

Berwick Public Works Director Rafael “Chico” Lopez and his crews also did a visual inspection of the inside of six-foot pipes but found them to be clean, Ratcliff said.

Councilman Greg Roussel said the engineer will release a plan after “crunching the numbers” and added that residents in the concerned areas can expect a letter from the town asking them to give their address if they flooded and to detail from which direction the water came.

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