"I was one of the youngsters that hung around with him a lot, so I kind of followed in his footsteps," said Lambert.

Public service is a family tradition for District 5 Councilman Dempsey Lambert. He followed in his grandfather's footsteps running for public office. His grandfather had served as a police juror years ago in Ascension Parish. Today, Lambert is pushing for many of the same issues his grandfather began. It was his grandfather's work on the police jury that inspired Lambert to join the council. He said his grandfather worked in public service for 28 years.

"I was one of the youngsters that hung around with him a lot, so I kind of followed in his footsteps," said Lambert.

Now in his fourth term on the Ascension Parish Council, Lambert is still pushing for drainage improvements across the parish. It's an issue his grandfather worked on for decades that became even more vital after the flood of 2016, when many of the weaknesses in the system were brought to light by rising waters. Lambert said parish government has been working to address the same problems for decades.

"This is 30 years that we've been dealing with getting pumps in the parish and building levees," said Lambert.

Lambert said the system held perfectly when the waters rose in March of 2016. The flooding issues were bad enough then, but he said no one knew that months later, the greatest flood to ever hit the parish would strike. It was then that they knew something had to be done to address the problems with drainage in the parish. It was in August that the system was overcome by devastation.

"I'm finding that folks sit well in traffic - there's a lot of things going on and they're being real patient - but when you have water in someone's home, it's totally different," said Lambert. "The flood of 2016 has really, really pushed people to the end."

Lambert said they're still picking up the pieces as residents continue to rebuild. He said many of his constituents are originally from St. Bernard Parish and other areas around New Orleans that were hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, forcing them to relocate to Ascension Parish. Dealing with a second devastating flood was incredibly difficult for those residents. That made solving the flooding problems even more important to Lambert.

He noted the parish is gearing up to begin construction on the Laurel Ridge levee extension after finally getting permits in place for the project. He said his grandfather was among the "sandbaggers" who were the visionaries behind these much needed improvements so many years ago. He said finishing the projects his predecessors began was a key issue for him when he joined the council in 2004. As the drainage chairman, he's looking forward to seeing those dreams finally come to fruition.

While some issues are finally being addressed, many problems from the flood are ongoing for residents, including debris pickup. Lambert said it's something many have started dealing with themselves. He said neighbors are helping neighbors to this day, just as they did when the flood hit. He said he works to stay in touch with voters and do what he can to get these issues handled on the parish level.

To stay in touch with the people he represents, Lambert often attends home owners association meetings to see what concerns residents are facing. He even drives around the parish looking for problems that need solving. His wife, Kim, is also supportive in this. He said she answers calls and stays on the computer to let her husband know about issues as they arise. He said public service is a family affair in that sense.

Lambert has been working with Atmos Energy for about 32 years. As a senior service technician, he said he meets a lot of people in every district of the parish and surrounding areas. The natural gas company keeps him busy with work, even sending him across the country at times. Between his full-time job and his work on the council and various committees, Lambert doesn't find himself with much free time. But when he does, he said it's best spent with family.

His oldest son, Colby, and wife, Leslie, are about to make Lambert a grandpa himself for the first time. His younger son, Spencer, works for the City of Gonzales. He said he likes to make a few hunting trips a year with his boys at their camp in Mississippi. When he's not spending time with family, Lambert is also involved with Volunteer Ascension. He said he enjoys finding ways to give back to the community.

Lambert is keeping his family tradition of public service alive in Ascension Parish.

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