Plaquemines Suffers Through IsaacSep 4th, 2012 | By Jessica Gonzalez | Category: top story
Rescue operations started early Wednesday morning after a giant wave of storm surge from the north came crashing in on the sleepy Eastbank community of Braithwaite.
“Around 11:30 or 12 Tuesday night, Mike LaFrance the commander on the Eastbank said that all of the sudden, all you saw was this wave of water coming from the north end, and all they could do was run and get as much people out to the levees as they could,” Sheriff Lonnie Greco explained gravely.
Since the rescues started, Greco says that about 115 people have been saved. The rescue efforts were the result of families saving themselves, neighbors saving neighbors, as well as police, fire and EMS crews.
Fire and EMS were stationed at Woodlawn on the Eastbank, which was completely under water until Monday September 1. The water came in so quickly that PPSO lost 3 patrol cars, 3 airboats, and a tractor being used to clear debris out of the road.
“On Wednesday, 36 citizens were rescued by Mike LaFrance and his crew with the help of St. Bernard Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann; he took them over and gave them shelter and food at his prison,” said Greco.
There were two fatalities in Braithwaite— a man and a woman in their mid-forties were found in the kitchen area of a Scarsdale Road home, according to the Sheriff.
“We didn’t think the storm was going to be this drastic, and I think a lot of people felt the same way,” said Greco.
The devastating flooding spans from the parish line to White Ditch, an 18 mile stretch that was protected solely by 8.5 foot parish-built levee system that was recently raised.
Early Monday crews were working to top them with plastic sheeting and sandbags to fight erosion from the anticipated flood waters, but levees were no match for the surge of water from the north and the 20 ft flood wall at the parish line. Waters on
Wednesday were at 12 ft, and by Saturday had come down to about 6 ft. The parish and Corps cut the levee to drain water out, but it was not working as quickly as they had anticipated.
Further south, the communities of Phoenix down to Bohemia, are protected by 13 foot levees, and did not flood to the levels of Braithwaite.
“From Phoenix to Bohemia survived— it’s just rain water and a lot of wind,” said Greco. “If a tree didn’t fall on it, or wind didn’t knock it down, they’ll still have a home to go back to.”
As the parish is still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill, devastation from Isaac is another crushing blow to the notoriously resilient people of Plaquemines Parish.
“I’ve seen the eyes of some of our citizens; I’ve talked to them and even some of my officers who live on that side, and the hurt is there,” Greco said. “How much is enough?”
Many speculate, including the Sheriff, that the Eastbank’s dramatic flooding was the result of the 20 ft Caernarvon Flood Wall pushing storm surge onto the back levees.
“I had 3 inches of water in my house after Katrina,” said Eastbank resident David Morgan. “The water from this storm left me trapped in my attic.”