Isaac: Levees overtopped, residents stranded in Plaquemines Parish

As Hurricane Isaac pummels the Louisiana coast, levees in the Plaquemines Parish have been overtopped. Some are saying the flooding in that area is worse than during Katrina.

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  1. "Not only did we see the worst case scenario, it got worse than that by this storm just stalling and hanging out there," said Billy Nungesser, Plaquemines Parish President, in an interview with CNN.

    "The levees can only take so much."
  2. Plaquemines Parish: Low-lying area at mouth of Mississippi River

  3. Hurricane Isaac made landfall Tuesday evening, striking the coast along the Plaquemines Parish as a Category 1 hurricane. The Parish is just southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River. 

    The levee overtopped in Plaquemines Parish is about 8- or 9-feet tall, located between the Braithwaite and White Ditch districts of southeast New Orleans, according to Reuters. The storm surge, meanwhile, is estimated to be about 13-feet.
  4. Nungesser said Wednesday morning that water is "coming over" the levee in several locations. 
  5. Video: Hurricane Isaac Makes Landfall
  6. Residents, pump operators stranded 

  7. Gene Oddo called WWL-TV from Braithwaite, where he, his wife and 1.5-year-old baby were trapped in their attic. Oddo said police came by the house at about 2 a.m. Wednesday to warn them the levees had been overtopped. 
  8. "It looks like we lost everything," Oddo said. "If we have to, I'm going to have to shoot a hole in the attic here to get out on our roof." 

    Oddo said the flooding inside his home was about 8 inches below the top of the door frame.
     
    "(The water) came up so quick it wasn't funny," Oddo said. 

    Residents aren't the only ones stranded.

    "We're trying to get a couple of our pump operators that stayed in the pump station out," Nungesser said. "They tried to come out and couldn't make it out. We're working with the Coast Guard now." 
  9. Damage reports in Plaquemines Parish

  10. Nungesser told The Times-Picayune Tuesday evening that portions of the roof on his Pointe Celeste home have been ripped off and water is pouring inside. 
  11. "I was scared driving south," Nungesser said. "We saw a few poles down during Hurricane Gustav, but these poles are snapped off at the ground. I'm just in awe that this is happening."
  12. Levees in Plaquemine Parish were not ready for Isaac

  13. "We just needed a couple more years without a major storm, but it doesn't look like we got that," Nungesser said. "We were in the process of raising those levees."

    He explained that the levees at issue are not part of the $14.5 billion federal project that updated 133 miles of levees around New Orleans — a project that was finished earlier this summer.
  14. Levees overtopped now, but danger of breach remains

  15. So far, the levees have been over-topped — meaning the storm surge is higher than the levee and water is flooding over it — but not breached. 

    With Isaac moving at a slow pace, Nungesser is concerned that as the storm hangs around, enough pressure could be put on the levees for a breach to occur.

    "As that water flows over the top, it eventually will eat out portions of that levee, which then it washes away," Nungesser said. "Either that or then the inside of the levee will fill up." 

    He continued: "Either way, that area is going to be totally inundated with water." 
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