Port looks toward Post-Isaac horizonOct 1st, 2012 | By Jessica Gonzalez | Category: top story
Like the rest of Braithwaite, the Edna LaFrance building—home to the Plaquemines Parish Port, Harbor and Terminal District, sustained serious flood damage from Hurricane Isaac. The rapidly rising water swamped Braithwaite early August 29, and by Saturday September 1 the flood levels sat around 8 ft.
Despite the total destruction of their Braithwaite office and many of their homes, Port employees pressed on during the thick of Hurricane Isaac and are doing their best to operate business as usual going forward.
For now, the Plaquemines Port’s operations are temporarily based out of the Belle Chasse Council Building, and there are plans to lease office space in the next few months. At their most recent meeting the council approved an ordinance allowing the Port to lease office space at a Belle Chasse site, located across the Highway from Lady Grace Seafood.
Port Manager John Pennison says the office space is slightly smaller than the Braithwaite office, but there is warehouse space in the back that will be useful. The agreement approved was for a three-year, $5,600 per month lease.
Most Port employees are still trying to shake off Isaac and return to a relative state of normalcy, but much like everyone else in the affected parts of the parish, it left an indelible mark on them. Since the Edna LaFrance Building was completely submerged early on August 29, the Authority III was used as base of operations and the Authority I and II were in charge of shuttling rescuees from the levee by the Ferry Stop, over to
safety on the Westbank.
Several of the Port’s Marine Inspectors were out in duck boats and on the Authority I and III, working in conjuction with Sheriff’s deputies and the Fire Department to rescue Eastbank residents who stayed behind. But in order to get on a Port boat to be shuttled over to the Westbank, you had to make your way to the levee.
“In the thick of it, rescues were really a community effort,” said Port Manager John Pennison. Karon Morin, a Port employee and Braithwaite resident rode out the storm in her home and was able to leave with her husband P.J. before the waters reached their peak.
Speaking to the community rescue efforts, Morin says that it was only because of her
neighbor’s work boat, she and her husband—along with a few neighbors they picked up along the way— made it to high ground.
“Before dark we waited out in a little work boat that was tied up to the back of my house and rode it up about 20 feet,” explained Morin emotionally. “We were able to pull my husband’s work truck out— the water hadn’t completely submerged it yet— and made it over the levee to the St. Bernard side.”
Eastbank resident and Port Employee Cheryl Taffaro also praised the efforts of not only her fellow Port employees, but paid and volunteer firemen as well.
“If they knew a neighbor with a boat, or had their own personal boat, they went and got it,” said Taffaro. “It was anybody helping anyone, paid or volunteer.”
Early that day, Port employees read winds at 40 mph and wind gusts of around 120 mph. Once winds were at a safe level to send duck boats out— Pennison estimates it was late afternoon on the 29th—he charged Marine Inspectors with going house to house via boat to find anyone who had not been able to leave, in conjunction with the Sheriff’s and Fire Department’s search and rescue operations. Pennison says the Port’s rescue crews made around three trips later that day and saved 35 people and several
“Our primary function was transporting people across the river, and I think we did very well,” said Pennison.
Port employees working
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