Corps: Levees not to blame for Isaac flooding

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wwltv.com

Posted on November 15, 2012 at 11:33 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 15 at 11:48 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- It has been almost three months since Hurricane Isaac hit, and thousands of families are still recovering from the storm.

On Thursday night the Army Corps of Engineers told St. John the Baptist Parish residents that its current levee protection system is not to blame for Isaac's flooding.

"You could see the surge coming and people running ahead of it," said Cornelius Watkins.

Like so many others, Isaac caught Watkins and his family by surprise. The slow-moving storm flooding his LaPlace home, car and belongings.

"We had to take out the first 4 feet. We had to gut it out, which I did," said Watkins.

The 72-year-old used veteran funds to rebuild, but many of his neighbors haven't been able to return. Now Watkins worries about the future.

"Me, I'm wondering if another storm comes through and St. Charles and Jefferson Parish is protected. The water is going to come the same way again, we're in this again," said Watkins.

St. John the Baptist Parish officials say about 6,000 people had to be rescued during Isaac and 5,000 homes were impacted by the storm.

"Did you consider that a storm might move as slow as Isaac or maybe even slower before you calculated all these studies?" asked an audience member at an Thursday night Army Corps of Engineers Post Hurricane Isaac Assessment Meeting.

Col. Ed Fleming with the Army Corps of Engineers fielded the public's questions at the public meeting. Fleming said a recently released study shows that the current levee protection system did not contribute to flooding during Isaac. He said the nature of the storm -- slow moving and its location -- is to blame for major flooding in communities outside the levee system.

"What we found out were the effects outside the levee system would have been similar whether the system was or wasn't there," Fleming said.

St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom attended the public meeting. She said the Army Corps of Engineers needs to speed up plans to protect areas outside the system including her parish.

"How do we stop this from happening again? Using the information from the study and use it to design a protection system that will protect all of the parishes," said Robottom.

For those who lost everything, that piece of mind can't come soon enough.

"I'd like to see the levee all the way to Baton Rouge," said Watkins.

The Army Corps of Engineers says a levee alignment project is being studied to help protect areas like St. John the Baptist Parish. However, Fleming says government approval and funding needs to happen to make that a reality.

The final of four "Post Hurricane Isaac Assessment Meeting" will take place on Monday, November 19 at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Jefferson Parish General Government Building, 200 Derbigny St., Gretna.

 

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