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State, administration assess flooding

Clogged storms drains can increase ooding occurrences. Raven LeDay/The Gramblinite

Carr states that “the subsurface drain system is cleaned monthly at the entry point or as needed. Raven LeDay/The Gramblinite

FEMA has secured $1.02 million in emergency funding to remediate immediate ood damage. Raven LeDay/The Gramblinite

The water has came and gone, but now the real work starts.

Over the last week, cau- tion tape and large trucks lined the roads. Restoration crews with lime-colored vests rested in the shade under a tree by Woodson Hall after long periods of cleaning, sal- vaging and drying equipment and furnishings damaged inrecent oods.

Following this extensive damage, the university applied for federal funding to make major upgrades to the drain- age system.

“That application is pres- ently being reviewed for ap- proval,” Frederick Carr, direc- tor of Facilities Management at GSU, said. “Facilities Man- agement will continue routine maintenance to our drainage system.”

This is the rst ood thatCarr has dealt with since be- ing hired in 2017. Carr and director of Safety and Risk Management Keith Odomare nalizing assessments ofbuildings damaged during severe weather in early April. Of the buildings, Institution- al Advancement operations were temporarily moved due to the sewage system backingup and over owing xturesand drains in the building. Other buildings were off-line and set to open later this se- mester but are now facing re- newed delays.

What comes next?

GSU has secured $1.02 million in FEMA funding toremediate immediate ooddamage and prevent further damage, such as mold growth, to T. H. Harris Auditorium, Men’s Memorial Gym, Fred- rick C. Hobdy Assembly Cen- ter, Woodson Hall, Favrot Student Union and Adams Hall.

The more than $1 mil- lion in emergency funds were needed due to an old issue – the fact that the Red- wine Creek watershed runs through campus – well known to the university, Lincoln Par- ish and FEMA.

FEMA has also funded $1.44 million in permanent work for more than 14 insti- tutional buildings. As a resultof the ood damage, GSU of cials are discussing how toprevent spending more time and money rehabbing build- ings instead of resolving once and for all the underlying problem regarding drainage during heavy rains to preventyet another ood event.

“Grambling and Lincoln Parish are eligible to apply for competitive non-disasterhazard mitigation grants onan annual basis,” Mike Steele, communication director for the State of Louisiana Gov-ernor’s Of ce of HomelandSecurity and Emergency Pre- paredness, said. “These proj- ects, if selected and awarded, come with a 25 percent non-federal cost share re- quirement.”

In 2016, Lincoln Parishcoordinated a Hazard Mitiga– tion plan that included Gram- bling State University.

“Governor John Bel Ed- wards allocated $750,000 to reduce the re-occurrenceof ooding at Grambling,”Casey Tingle, chief of stafffor the Governor’s Of ceof Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Grambling, said.

Steele said Lincoln Par- ish submitted a project for FEMA funding considerationafter the March 2016 ood.

“The project was submit- ted in late 2017,” Steele said. “Phase 1 was approved in July 2018 that allows for the H & H (hydrologic & hydraulic) study, preliminary design and other non-construction ac- tivities related to the drainage project. The project proposessigni cant channel improve– ments to Redwine Creek for a distance of about 4,100 feet.”

No one person is to blamefor the delay in xing the un– derlying drainage issue and the progress of installing creek pipes. Ultimately, the state is being asked to createa costly plan to x pipes inmultiple areas of North Lou- isiana.

“It is just not a state pri- ority at this time,” a LincolnParish of cial who request– ed anonymity, said. “North Louisiana is a low tax revenue area, and most funds will goto coastal parishes rst, ifneeded.”

President Rick Gallot has pushed improvements in the

right direction.

History of ooding on campus well-documented

For more than 30 years, leaders were aware of the is- sue regarding the creek, but did not see it as a priority. Many have suggested poor leadership affected the prog- ress of the university. Accord-ing to the Lincoln Parish of – cial, prior to the relocation of the football stadium in 1985 a study was done to predict the effects of the creek runoff.

“Once the football eldand the heavy buildings that line R.W.E. Jones were built, the creek was simply over-powered,” the of cial said.“The creek runs so long who knows what else is blockingthe natural ow…beaver dams,other infrastructures.”

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said he is com- mitted to helping resolve the mitigation in North Louisi-ana. His rst step was sendingU.S. Army National Guard and Corps of Engineers to as- sess the damages in the area.

What can Grambling of cials do to correct the prob– lem?

A Grambling State Uni- versity employee with knowl- edge of the problems who also requested anonymity said that while a new pumping system is required, one reasonfor continuous ooding is im– proper maintenance to storm drains.

According to a 2018 Times-Picayune article, more than 45 tons of Mardi Gras beads were found in clogged storm drains after New Or-

leans experienced oodingin 2018 due to poor mainte- nance and a failing pumping system. This 90,000 pound discovery was uncovered during a $7 million emergen- cy contract where almost twodozen vacuum trucks, crewsworking for Baton Rouge- based Compliance Envi- roSystems managed to collect around 7.2 million pounds of debris from September 26, 2017 to January 23, 2018.

Carr states that “the subsurface drain system is cleaned monthly at the entry point or as needed. The open drainage system is cleaned an- nually or as needed.”

A survey of the area by The Gramblinite found that

more than ve drains werefull of debris and an open- ing to Redwine Creek by the President’s House, Charles P. Adams and facilities building are currently clogged with trees and brushes.

While clearing storm drains is a small solution, a task force is needed to go to Washington D.C., often, in or- der to receive funds to build a proper pumping system. This task is not only on Carr but stated before it is now his responsibility. Lobbying for the university and City of Grambling involves all hands on deck.

In the meantime Gram- bling is subject to another round of severe weather.