Dispatch: Parts of parish may stay ‘under water’
BELLE CHASSE, La. – We are just a few hundred feet from the Mississippi River. Most of the land we are on is pretty much at river level, and there is a levee along the banks of the river that is about 10 feet or so above river level. As I sit here putting my thoughts together, and referencing a map, I have begun to put things in perspective. When I have visited New Orleans further up the Mississippi from here, I have marveled at the massive ships that come and go on the also massive river.
I’m only just now realizing that all those ships come and go on the river that runs all the way through the parish that I am now in, and that we’re literally a stone’s throw from that river when we’re driving up and down the highway. The parish that we are here assisting is quite literally the gateway to all the shipping commerce that comes and goes on the Mississippi. I will try to get some information on what, if any, damage the flooding has done to the actual shipping channel and any locks that may be along it through this parish.The Belle Chasse Volunteer Fire Department is now providing fire protection for as much of Plaquemines Parish as is still reachable by road, which extends a little bit beyond its normal boundaries, but the other departments did not survive Katrina.
You can drive about as far south as Port Sulfur, and beyond that, the parish is mostly underwater. Some of the southern end of the parish may be permanently under water.Some people that fled Katrina to places like Lafayette, La., where they have friends and family, are now back at Plaquemines parish to escape Rita.Today we spoke with a man named Rosco who works for the parish’s flood control department and was down near Point A La Hache. Rosco’s job is to put breaks in the levee to drain water that flooded the parish when the Mississippi overflowed.He was working to shore up the gulfside levees to prepare for the storm surge coming in from Rita.We also spoke to the Plaquemines Parish building inspector today. He indicated that he has been busy with the process of inspections to get power back online to the northern parts of the Parish. He lost two homes in the southern parts of the parish, and is now living in an apartment in the northern end.
I was curious about whether or not flood insurance was available to homes that were essentially at sea level, between two levees. He said it was, to anyone that could afford it. He knew people who had it, and he knew people who didn’t.Yesterday, we went to the Belle Chasse Volunteer Fire Department chief’s house to help him move an outbuilding that had been displaced by flash flooding back to it’s original location. He showed us inside his house, which was flooded with about 14 inches of water from the Mississippi when it topped its levee across the street from his house. He has removed most all the contents, all the carpeting, and the lower 2 to 4 feet of drywall that was soaked with water. He’s now waiting for an insurance adjuster to have time to come inspect his house.Across the street from his house is a railroad that runs between the road and the Mississippi. There were cars on the rails all along the tracks, and the cars caught all the debris in the river, preventing the debris from doing more damage as the water came rushing in. The space under the cars on the tracks was packed with logs and branches, and the rail bed itself was washed out from under the rails.Vail, Colorado