Thursday, August 30, 2012

Public Readings - In Plaquemines Parish, ‘Never Seen Anything Like This, Not Even Katrina’

Public Readings - In Plaquemines Parish, ‘Never Seen Anything Like This, Not Even Katrina’In Plaquemines Parish, a rural area with about 25,000 residents south of New Orleans, officials ordered new evacuations as Isaac’s slow movement and heavy rains put more neighborhoods at risk.

“We’ve never seen anything like this, not even Katrina,’’ Billy Nungesser, the parish president, told reporters in a press conference aired by WWLTV, a local TV station.

Mr. Nungesser said floodwaters reached farther into some neighborhoods along the parish’s eastern bank of the Mississippi River than in 2005, when Katrina, a far more powerful Category 3 hurricane, barreled through the region.

“It’s the pounding of this storm, sitting here so long, pushing up like nothing we’ve seen before,’’ said Mr. Nungesser, adding his own house suffered more damage Wednesday than during Katrina.

The parish ordered a mandatory evacuation of residents late Wednesday morning on the western bank of the Mississippi River as a precaution, saying it could no longer guarantee area levees could withstand the rising waters.

The new orders came as rescue operations continued in the parish community of Braithwaite on the Mississippi’s eastern bank. A neighborhood filled with more than 10 feet of water earlier Wednesday after a back levee was topped, sending water toward the Mississippi and into homes.

Plaquemines issued a mandatory evacuation order for communities along the eastern banks before Isaac’s arrival, but not everyone had heeded the call. About 25 people were stranded in their attics and 65 people were on a rescue list as of Wednesday morning.

Local TV footage Wednesday showed Fred Leslie, a 70-year-old Braithwaite resident, being rescued from the attic of his house with his four dogs and taken away by boat after having called 911.

“It seemed like five minutes and the damn thing was six feet deep,’’ Mr. Leslie told a WWLT reporter after being rescued.

Mr. Leslie said he evacuated early for Katrina, which also destroyed his home, but had decided to wait out Isaac.

“I was just hard-headed. I didn’t think it was going to happen again,’’ said Mr. Leslie, adding that he plans to move somewhere else.

Plaquemines stretches for roughly 80 miles along the Mississippi River, from the Gulf of Mexico to just south of New Orleans.