Extreme drought costing some in SE Louisiana thousands in foundation repairs

Published: Nov. 13, 2023 at 6:27 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Drought conditions ease with the much needed soaking rain, but the extreme weather recently is costing some in southeast Louisiana hundreds, even thousands in repairs.

“I was watching it and said oh, Lord, no. It don’t look too good. I gotta get some dirt,” said Ramona Synigal.

Three years ago, she made foundation repairs to her Terrytown home. Synigal was heartbroken to see her yard sinking again. This time, Synigal had half-a-load of dirt delivered to her house to shore up her foundation.

“The drought came and it started showing all the foundation around the house so I had to get some dirt,” Synigal said.

Daniel Crawford, owner of Pump-N-Sand has seen an uptick in business since the drought. He says typically, it can take multiple loads to shore up property.

“The ground is just dried up so bad, that it is pulling away from the homes and sinking,” Crawford said.

Aside from cosmetic damage like cracked driveways and sidewalks, Crawford said bigger problems can develop when the moisture content of the soil changes.

“Pipes crack, the ground starts shifting,” Crawford said. “I get people and their garden just falls under the house because it just drops down that far.”

Tyler Antrup, a visiting associate professor of real estate development at Tulane University and previous director of planning and strategy at the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board said when the water table drops, the ground tends to sink.

“All of our infrastructure is supported by the soil that they are built upon,” Antrup said. “As much as we can keep them hydrated by reducing pavement and ensuring that during these large rainfall events that we’re able to get that rainfall into the soil, that will help preserve our infrastructure.”

When one section of ground settles faster than the other, a process known as differential settlement begins. Foundations crack, pipes break and roads can crack. Antrup said the rain is great news to replenish groundwater and to stabilize soil.

“This is going to help us catch up, maybe not even get us to where we’re supposed to be for the year, but certainly, every little bit helps,” Antrup said.

As for Synigal, she’s hopeful the rain will help settle her yard and that she will not have foundation problems again.

“Therefore, it will be back together, the glue. If not and it starts showing again, I guess I’ll get a half a load again and we’ll do it all over again,” Synigal said.

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