Parish Engineer appears at Special Meeting in Sorrento

Parish Engineer Joey Tureau

When it comes to drainage/flooding issues the Town of Sorrento finds itself at the mercy of Ascension Parish…except for Tuesday night when Mayor Mike Lambert called a Special Meeting to discuss Flood Damage Prevention.  For a few years President Kenny Matassa has ignored invitations from Sorrento’s Council desperate to resolve any number of drainage-related issues.  On Tuesday, though, Parish Engineer Joey Tureau made his way to Sorrento’s Town Hall to urge the town council’s adoption of an ordinance corresponding to new flood maps or risk losing flood insurance.

Tureau was welcomed by a dozen citizens who wanted to talk about insurance rates and effect thereon by building requirements related to Base Flood Elevation (BFE).  The engineer warned that insurance would be unobtainable unless the Council passed the ordinance.

FEMA recently accepted a Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) for the Bayou Conway watershed which requires Ascension Parish, Sorrento and the other east bank municipality, Gonzales, to adopt what’s called “Ordinance D.”  According to Tureau, if any of the three governmental entities fails to adopt the ordinance by May 15 compliance with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will lapse for all and residents would be unable to secure flood insurance at any price.

The watershed’s western limit is Geismar, south of Hwy 30 where heavy industry is located along the Mississippi River.  It includes area east as far as Airline Hwy including all of Sorrento and part of Gonzales.

Ascension first participated in NFIP accepting FEMA Flood Maps in 1983 when the first Great Flood visited.  Adoption of “Ordinance A” was part of the acceptance; followed by “B” and “C” when those maps were updated in 1993 and 2007.  With each successive revision new requirements were added to the operative ordinance.

Ordinance D adds two items:

  • Recognition of “floodways” with a prohibition on “any development” therein;
  • Regulation of mobile homes establishing installation in relation to BFE.

Tureau explained that three floodways are present in the subject watershed; Bayou Conway, Panama Canal, and Boyle Bayou.  Floodways include the main channel and adjacent land areas depending on condition where development must be prohibited by ordinance.

The council will take up the issue of future development, whether Sorrento will continue requiring construction to BFE (as opposed to BFE, plus one foot), in the near future.