Residents Seek Flood Relief

On a sunny, dry day Bruce Cuevas's house looks like any other in the Green Acres subdivision. But when the remnants of Tropical Storm Allison dumped several inches of rain last month, Cuevas's house became a flood zone. "We're just fed up with it, we need to get somethin' done," Cuevas says. For the first time Cuevas says the neighbors are uniting to do something. They've written letters to Congressman Gene Taylor and Senator Trent Lott asking for help, and they're talking to their alderman Joe McNarry. Resident Jim Smith says,"This is the first time that water has actually gotten into the garage. I opened my gates to let the pressure off the water and it sucked it right out of the garage."

The neighbors say the culprit is a canal that runs behind the homes on Marjorie Street. The canal extends across Beatline, over Espy and Menge and into Pass Christian. The Long Beach city engineer says it needs to be widened, deepened, and in some places cleaned, to stop the flooding.  "Marjorie Street has some pipes that drain from the street to the canal and obviously when the canal builds up full the water backs up those pipes into the street and that's what causes the major flooding," says engineer John Campton. Ward four alderman, Joe McNarry says, "A normal rain and the streets are flooded. We don't know if it's the pipes, if they're too small. We know we have to go through step one, clean and step one starts with the pipes and get the water out of the subdivision and the canal must be cleaned and let the water flow freely."

Flood weary residents say that's all they want so they don't have to worry when it rains again. "So what we would like to see is the canal being cleaned from here all the way to Pass Christian," says Liz Young.

Now the challenge is to determine how that can be done, and who's going going to pay for it. The canal is in the jurisidiction of the Long Beach Water Management District.  Its chairman, Mike Wren, says they are well aware of the problems with the canal. Wren says by August 1, they should receive preliminary plans from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a federal agency that does the management district's design work. Wren says he expects the canal will be widened and deepened with federal money to help the water flow.