NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - We caught up with Clarence Robinson cleaning fallen leaves, knowing the next time it rained, the leaves would likely clog their catch basin and flood their street again.
Robinson says he's lived in his Fillmore neighborhood home for more than 20 years and remembers when the congregation of St. Joseph nunnery was right in his backyard.
Since abandoning the land after hurricane Katrina, the congregation donated the 25 acres to the city, but neighbors have continued to use it as a green space, a trend Robinson hopes continues.
“Green space would be wonderful because as you know well it's all over the city, but every time we get rain just a normal amount of rainfall the street fills up with water, so if we had somewhere for the water to go that be really nice,” said Robinson.
City leaders have plans to turn the 25 acres into a Mirabeau Water Garden. Advertising for bids will go out soon, with plans to break ground in the summer. One of the primary goals of the project: to reduce flooding.
Part of this multi-million-dollar project is utilizing the natural topography of the area so for example using low areas like this and turning them into water basins.
“The residents around here according to the models we looked at, will see flooding reductions of about a foot and reduce flooding duration of up to 60 minutes so very important,” said Mary Kincaid, sustainable infrastructure program manager.
Kincaid is one of the program managers. She says this project will be an example of how green and gray infrastructure can work together, but still give residents a place to enjoy, and even learn, as designs also pay homage to the nuns' former convent.
“This is something that works with the pump so we make use of existing pumping capacity… we’re going to keep these live oaks and plan on this area to be a meditation garden will be talking about how the sisters grew their own food,” said Kincaid.
Impressed with what could be his new backyard, Robinson hopes it will accomplish all that's promised.
“It seems like a wonderful plan if they develop it into at the neighbors actually use it for a little park,” said Robinson.
The project is jointly funded by HUD and FEMA funds and grants.
When finished, the Mirabeau Water Gardens should hold 10 million gallons of water.