MANDEVILLE, LA (WVUE) - Mandeville officials are playing beat-the-clock with new improvements designed to ease flooding on the lakefront. They have also had to make an engineering adjustment in a plan that's a small portion of St. Tammany flood control - a valve designed to let flood water out of Mandeville, while keeping lake water from getting in.
The City of Mandeville has now installed more than 20 in-line check valves along the lakefront to prevent flooding, which is all too common during summer storms.
"When a tropical storm comes in, what normally happens two days before, all this area will be filled with water 2 or 3 feet deep," said Mandeville lakefront resident Gerard Braud.
The flood-control effort is a $350,000 project that was discussed for two years before work finally began, and it hasn't been easy. At first, Mandeville engineers were going to install a flap-type valve on the pipe, but due to a silting problem, they had a change in plans.
"We did have a problem, so we changed to the in line check valve," said Mandeville Mayor Donald Villere.
It's just one link in a St. Tammany flood protection plan that many say, still needs a lot of work. Some improvements have been made to levees near Slidell, but parish officials worry about an overall lack of protection.
"If you look at the big picture, a gated system would protect the region," said Dexter Accardo, who heads up St. Tammany emergency operations.
"Everyone's saying go to the Rigolets, Chef Pass, and you can protect the whole lake," said Villere.
In lieu of a Rigolets barrier, Mandeville officials will continue to approve elevation grants for qualified homeowners, while they seek Corps money to build floodgates to enhance the work now underway.
"If it's cost justified, they'll participate in 65 percent of the total cost," said Villere.
Meantime, many are hopeful the recent improvements will help.
"I'm optimistic about these valves. it should prevent neighborhood flooding two or three days before," said Braud.
But the new valves would do little, in a major hurricane.
The new Mandeville valve project should be wrapped up by the end of next month.
In July, parish officials will begin seeking corps funding for new floodgates, that would be designed to keep lake floodwater from moving up ravines which run into old Mandeville neighborhoods.