20 years later, May 8 flood's lasting repercussions

20 years later, May 8 flood's lasting repercussions

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A flood two decades ago continues to have a lasting effect around the Crescent City, especially for drivers and homeowners.

The May 8 flood of 1995 dropped more than 20 inches of rain in a 40-hour span. The flood ravaged homes and businesses and forced officials to get to work.

"Prior to '95, we had the flood of '89. The Corps of Engineers had undertaken a study right after the flood of '89 and when we had the '95 flood, Congress asked the Corps to start constructing projects - no more study. Do the projects," said Jefferson Parish Public Works Director Kazem Alikhani.

Alikhani watched as the storm brought in a flood of money, creating the Southeastern Louisiana Drainage Program (SELA).

Local, state and federal governments have spent more than a billion dollars to pay for it.

"You had areas like Diane, Phyllis Court, Oakwood area on the west bank, River Ridge that used to get a lot of structure flooding and we have, through a lot of innovative ideas putting a smaller pump to the river, have prevented those house flooding and those structure floodings in those areas," Alikhani said.

While Jefferson is seeing improvements, Orleans Parish is seeing construction.

"In Orleans alone, we have $630 million in work going on right now," Corps of Engineer spokesperson Ricky Boyett said. "We are making great progress. It is great project, unfortunately there is a lot of sacrifices that we are asking the residents."

Uptown is where most of the work is creating havoc for drivers. But ongoing work will take time to complete. Drainage upgrades on Jefferson Avenue are estimated to be complete in summer 2016. Napoleon Avenue work is expected to last until winter 2016 and Louisiana Avenue is slated to finish in spring 2018.

"Especially with today being the anniversary, SELA is looking to address the type of flooding we did get from rainfall 20 years ago," Boyett said. "SELA is set to address nine inches over a 24-hour period."

Along with Uptown construction, SELA work still continues on the west bank to finish the pumping station in Algiers, in the Ninth Ward to improve drainage and in New Orleans East at the Dwyer Road Canal.

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