Isaac recovery almost complete in St. John the Baptist Parish

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wwltv.com

Posted on March 20, 2014 at 5:23 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 21 at 6:33 AM

Thanh Truong / Eyewitness News
Email: ttruong@wwltv.com | Twitter: @thanh412

LAPLACE, La. -- St. John the Baptist Parish is nearly recovered from the devastating flooding brought by Hurricane Isaac in 2012, according to the parish president and the head of the long-term recovery group formed to steer rebuilding efforts.

More than 7,000 homes were damaged when Hurricane Isaac's storm surge flooded many parts of LaPlace and Reserve.

"We never expected in a year and a half that we literally have seen 95 percent of our community totally rebuilt," said Pastor Neil Bernard.

The pastor led the long-term recovery group in the aftermath of the storm.

On Thursday, Bernard hosted an appreciation lunch at New Wine Church, for donors and volunteers who helped make the hurricane recovery a speedy one. Bernard attributes the quick recovery to the ability of neighbors and community members to work with one another.

"The storm showed us how we can work together and really rebuild after a major disaster," said Pastor Bernard.

More than $67 million in aid flowed into the parish after the storm. Residents like Junios Williams say the parish seems better than before. He points to better drainage and cleaner streets.

Williams' home in the Cambridge subdivision in LaPlace was flooded with 4 feet of water. He and his wife were displaced for six months while they rebuilt their home.

Having moved from Los Angeles in the 1990s, Williams said disaster seems to be able to strike anywhere.

"I've learned if it isn't earthquakes, then it is hurricanes or something else. I'm glad the flood is over now, but it's something I hope never to see again," said Williams.

But in southeast Louisiana, the possibility of flooding is an annual one. While the storm may have shown a bright light on the community's ability to work together, the parish president says it also exposed one of St. John's biggest vulnerabilities, a lack of levee protection.

"At least in the river parishes, there's been a study for levee protection for 40 years and it was never completed, the urgency possibly wasn't there. I think it's extremely clear now that St. John the Baptist Parish is extremely vulnerable without levee protection from Lake Pontchartrain," said Parish President Natalie Robottom.

Robottom said that feasibility study is now being compiled and should be completed by September, well after the start of the 2014 hurricane season.

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