Since May 2011, residents of the Melia Community have complained of structural damage to their property as a result of the Dwyer Road Drainage Project. Although the Sewerage and Water Board responded in writing to a complaint from Mrs. Johnette Jackson on June 3, 2011, no action was taken to resolve her complaints or the complaints from other residents from the Melia Community. On May 25, 2012, the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) organized a meeting for residents from the Melia Community to meet with representatives from the Corps of Engineers and Sewerage and Water Board to address their concerns. Representatives from the Corps of Engineers were not available for this meeting, however, three representatives from the Sewerage and Water Board attended the meeting. Below is a list of community complaints as a result of the Dwyer Road Drainage Project:
- Cracked Slab
- Cracks in Walls
- Sewer Flies
- Foul odors
- Sewer backed up onto yard
- Health concerns from Sewer Flies
- Cracks in bricks outside of home
- Inside doors won’t shut
- Anxiety and Stress
- Concern with potential cross contamination of water - would like water sampled.
Sewerage and Water Board Risk Management Department 3-step process
Mr. Anthony Stewart, an attorney representing the Sewerage and Water Board discussed the complaint process. The Army Corps of Engineers is the lead on the Dwyer Road Drainage Project and Sewerage and Water Board is the local sponsor.
- First, residents will be contacted by the Sewerage and Water Board Risk Management Department or the Corps of Engineers to arrange a date and time for an initial inspection.
- Second, the complaint will be reviewed and evaluated by the Sewerage and Water Board for the Corps. of Engineers.
- The third and final step, is the acceptance of the damage claim or the denial of the complaint, depending on the outcome of step two.
The estimate time to complete this process is three to four months.
Prior to the start of the project, engineers installed monitor devices to determine what effect activity has had on the area. Rights-of-Entry forms were also sent to residents to conduct a pre-construction inspection and to take photos of the properties.
- Residents are requesting that all homes that have structural/foundational damage to be demolished and rebuilt.
- Relocate residents until property is repaired or rebuilt.
- Residents are requesting road repair from the project.
The DSCEJ met with Melia community leaders on Thursday, August 9th for a second meeting to discuss complaints of property damage, sewer flies, and noise pollution from the project. Representatives from the Corps of Engineers and the Sewerage and Water Board were present at the meeting. Representatives with the Corps of Engineers are working closely with Roosavelt and Johnette Jackson to address the sewer flies and structural damage to their home. Other residents who filed a complaint through the Sewerage and Water Board Complaint Line were directed to call Mr. Anthony Stewart with the Sewerage and Water Board. Representatives with the Sewerage and Water Board will also work closely with residents to improve community relations and outreach efforts with Melia and other community residents in the New Orleans area. The DSCEJ will continue to monitor response efforts to ensure residents are made whole.