Habitat Homes Not Responsible For Union Street Flooding

Habitat for Humanity's Hancock County project manager wants to set the record straight. She says Habitat's Union Street development in Bay St. Louis did not cause the street flooding that followed last week's heavy rain storm.

Some residents in the area and city councilman Jeffrey Reed blamed the Habitat homes for last week's trouble. But Habitat for Humanity says the flooding problem didn't start on Union at all.

"It started about a quarter of a mile from here at the end of Kellar Street," Habitat Project Manager Wendy McDonald said. "There was storm debris and culverts that had fallen into the ditches that were blocking the main artery, and there was a collapsed culvert on Washington Street."

City work crews pulled all kinds of debris out of the ditches from old wheelbarrows to old tires. Habitat is in the process of building ten homes on Union Street. When the organization heard the flooding complaints, it hired an engineer to look into the flooding problem.

Civil Engineer James Chiniche said, "We felt like it was debris in the ditches, some inconsistencies on the slop of the ditches."

"As far as we know, the Habitat construction had nothing to do with the flooding problem," Bay St. Louis Mayor Eddie Favre said.

And Habitat leaders want to make sure the Habitat homes going up on Union won't contribute to the problem in the future.

"After the flood, we met with the city and said, 'Is there anything we can do to make sure we enhance the drainage system and don't cause problems?' So they suggested we put in 24 inch culverts, instead of what they had recommended initially which was 18 inch culverts. So we are going to do that," McDonald said.

Mayor Favre says the entire Bay St. Louis drainage system is about to get a post-Katrina overhaul.

"The engineers are in the process now of coming up with a plan that we can put out for bid very shortly," Favre said.

Mayor Favre says once that work is completed, residents should no longer be threaten by flood waters.

by Al Showers