Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
HARVEY, La. - An overtopping and breaching of an interim levee along the Harvey Canal caused the Flood Protection Authority to close heavy floodgates in the area to protect homes and businesses outside of the gates.
Some businesses inside the gates, including the popular Boomtown Casino, had to close.
The huge, heavy gate in the Harvey Canal flood wall moved easily and silently on giant hinges. The rapidly rising water in the Canal, pushed in for days by Tropical Storm Lee's strong southerly winds, surprised those who were not expecting much from this storm system. But having the twenty feet tall flood wall lining the canal bank was a relief to Jefferson Parish President John Young.
"These walls are going to protect everyone east of the Harvey Canal, in Orleans, Jefferson, and Plaquemines, a significant level of protection since Katrina," said Young.
But as rising water attacked an older levee inside the flood wall, 3,000 pound sandbags were brought in to shore it up. The Boomtown Casino sits between the flood wall and the canal, so operators closed it voluntarily at mid afternoon, evacuating vehicles from canal side parking lots, even as others tried to get in.
The Corps of Engineers closed the sector gate in the Harvey Canal next to the Lapalco bridge, but a worker at one of the businesses inside the flood wall wished they had closed the new gate further south instead, saying that would have kept high water from threatening any of the businesses.
Nearby property owners were glad the gates were closed.
"Oh very, very happy. It stops the flooding," said Harvey Property Owner Gary Marshall.
The wall was completed by the Corps after Katrina, and the rising water could be seen leaking through the closed gates, making property owners in the protected area glad.
"I'm real thankful for it, I'm grateful," said Harvey Resident Arthur Dupre.
Every other gate in the wall along the Harvey Canal has been shut, except one at the entrance to the Boomtown Casino. But as you can see, the levee district workers are standing by, if the water keeps rising in the Harvey Canal, they are ready to complete shutting this one, and they say it takes just minutes.
But the water level in the Canal kept rising quickly, and before sunset, the last gate was closed.