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Family has sinking feeling drainage leak won’t be fixed

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    NEW ORLEANS (WDSU) — The Yuratich family has lived on Navarre Avenue for 10 years, just steps away from the neighborhood café and Lakeview Playground. A major public works project started in the area in February that will fix outdated sewer lines and include street improvements.

But the Yuratiches say they’ve had a long-standing infrastructure problem on their property, and they fear the roadwork will be complete without the underlying issue being addressed.

In 2013, Jessica Yuratich says her father-in-law noticed a sinking spot in her yard next to her driveway.

It wasn’t far from the water main on their lot, so she reached out to the Sewerage & Water Board. The utility told her the problem was the responsibility of the city’s Department of Public Works, which handles street-level drainage lines.

“Neither one wanted to own up to it and say it was their issue to fix,” Yuratich said. “I’d report it to one agency, they would say it’s not theirs. I’d report it to the other agency, they’d say, ‘No, it’s not us.’”

After years of inaction and no response to her complaints, the driveway continued to sink. Yuratich says her 92-year-old grandmother fell into the hole when she visited for Thanksgiving 2019.

When the current infrastructure project moved closer to her home this year, the apron connecting her driveway to the street collapsed completely.

The Yuratich family reached out to WDSU this week, concerned that the approaching roadwork would be complete before the problem below her driveway was fixed. The city confirmed Tuesday that the problem involves a drainage line, which falls under the Department of Public Works’ responsibility.

A city spokesman said the project contractor, Hard Rock Construction of Harvey, is exploring the extent of the problem to determine what repairs are needed. WDSU reached out to Hard Rock this afternoon to learn when the Yuratiches could expect the drain line to be repaired, and the company has not responded.

According to the city’s roadwork website, the Navarre area infrastructure project will be finished next year between July and September.

Yuratich forwarded an email she sent Tuesday afternoon to Mayor LaToya Cantrell asking for her assistance. It was a problem she said she had originally reported to the Mitch Landrieu administration. Yuratich also told Cantrell she had contacted WDSU and would be discussing her problem.

The mayor responded to Yuratich, saying the leak would not be paved over without being fixed.

“Do not cause harm to issues that MY administration have worked extremely hard to address,” Cantrell said in the email response.

Yuratich said she isn’t very confident a permanent fix is in the works.

“You have to do something the right way. They never fix it the right way. They put a Band-Aid on a bullet wound, every time,” she said.

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