Woods: Project eases campus flooding, won’t eliminate it

NEW ORLEANS (March 29, 2019) – Three months past the expected completion of the flood mitigation project here at Dillard, 95 percent of the work is done, according to Facilities Director Adonis Woods, who wants students to understand the difference between mitigation and elimination of flooding.

Freshman Jalen Moore, a theatre major and on-campus resident, was among students who complained recently that the project had not fixed flooding woes on campus because it still floods when it rains.

However, Woods suggested new students speak with seniors and faculty and staff to learn what used to happen when it rained: Campus streets flooded and sidewalks were impassable. He said campus pedestrians used to need “boots up to their knees.”

“Mitigation doesn’t mean elimination,” Woods said. The project has lessened the impact of rain events. While he conceded different elevations on sidewalks mean some puddling still occurs, Woods said the $6.5 million project has made a major difference.

“Some areas might get water, but it doesn’t stand long” now, he said. “We have truly achieved our objectives” by lessening the effect of a significant rain event.

The director pointed out that most people know the topography of New Orleans is like a bowl, but what some might not know is that Gentilly actually sits on a ridge, which means the property “actually sits on an even lower area; that’s the reason why we have so much flooding.”

The project included changing some elevations, creating bioswales, so that water from the front of the campus can drain to retention ponds in the back of the campus, an environmentally friendly process that requires gravity rather than pumps. The ponds are designed to hold the water about 24 to 72 hours to put less pressure on city pumping stations and help the community beyond Dillard, Woods said.

Woods said his team is in a “full-court press” to get the campus ready for graduation: Contractors are installing sprinkler systems, grass is being fertilized; caterpillars are being eliminated in the trees; and flowers planted.

The goal, he said, is to have The Avenue of the Oaks look like a golf course.

 (Toenisha Hudson contributed to this report.)