BNSF arrives for repairs
Nearly two weeks ago some residents of Gray Lawn subdivision called The Post-Signal to complain about the length of time it had taken Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railway to repair a collapsed culvert which caused the neighborhood to flood during the Jan. 10 and 11 rains of this year.
This weekend they are breathing a sigh of relief as the railway company recently had several repairmen arrive in Crowley who have been hard at work fixing the culvert in question.
Though the city of Crowley experienced some of the worst flooding in its history over the course of those unforgettable days earlier this year, the residents of Gray Lawn, particularly those who live along Riceland Drive, suffered extensive damage to their homes, which were supposed to be on land that was not considered a “high risk” flood area.
Subsequently, many of the residents did not buy flood insurance and the ensuing damage ended up costing many of them thousands of dollars in repair bills.
Mike Habetz of the 6th Ward Drainage Board was particularly upset with the delays in repair work.
“I called their emergency number repeatedly over a three-day period and nobody ever answered,” he said, in a previous interview. “It took calling (Rep.) Jack Montoucet to get someone here. Then we didn’t hear from them again for months.”
The repairs were set to begin in August, according to Habetz. However, August came and went and nothing had been done.
According to a spokesman with BNSF, there must have been a misunderstanding because that’s when the company began to accept bids for the job.
To add to their frustration, just two weeks ago a thunderstorm system was approaching the area and several inches of rain was predicted. Luckily, most of the rain fell to the east of Crowley in Calcasieu Parish. However, the close call did not alleviate any of the residents’ concerns.
“To think what would have happened here if that 10 inches of rain had fallen here instead of in Lake Charles,” said a relieved sounding Ding Hoffpauir at the time.
However, as of last week, the repair work on the culvert has begun. In fact, according to BNSF, the repair will also include an improvement. There will now be two culverts draining the area as opposed to one.
Not a moment to soon for Habetz.
“They say the work may take two to three weeks depending on the weather,” he said. “I'm just glad the residents of that neighborhood will hopefully be able to sleep much better knowing that will soon have good drainage.”
According to Crowley Tourism Director Charlotte Jeffers, it may have taken the article in The Post-Signal to get them to Crowley.
“Everyone is appreciative of them being here to do the work,” said Jeffers. “But it still took them nine months to get here. I think pointing them out in the newspaper is what got them down here.”
“It’s great that they’re here and hopefully they will complete the job quickly,” said Becky Douget who resides in the subdivision. “As all residents in south Louisiana have no doubt noticed by now there is a system in the Gulf and it’s going to be a close call. Without the article in the paper which mentioned that we had been considering a lawsuit I don’t think they’d be here yet.”