ST. TAMMANY, La. -- Some people in St. Tammany Parish say they’re tired of running from storm surge scares.
The issue comes after predictions that the Pearl River would crest higher than most had ever seen it after Isaac, but then it never did. The same thing happened in 2009, where extreme flood concerns came and went, without the water.
Now people who live along the river are calling “boy who cried wolf.”
"They need to have a better idea. I would like to see, myself, put a new gauge up here," said Leroy Bandy, who’s been on the Pearl for 20 years.
New gauges are on St. Tammany Parish Councilman Gene Bellisario’s to-do list following Isaac, along with forming a task force to re-study the terrain around the Pearl River and Lake Pontchartrain. He thinks it will let the parish know today’s real ebb and flow of the water, so they’ll be better prepared for the next storm.
"What was coming down south, from the north, was going to the West Pearl. It’s now shifting to the East Pearl so therefore that dynamic has to be looked at. There are areas we had to look at that we thought were open, that we found are silting now, so things have changed so much," he said.
The National Weather Service is on-board with the study because it has to predict storm surges more accurately.
"It does leave portions south of that Pearl River gauge without our forecasting expertise, without our forecasting information and our hydrological information, so we really look forward to working with people who can help us solve that," said Suzanne Van Cooten, the Slidell-based National Weather Service hydrologist in charge.
That will include the river’s neighbors, like Bandy.
"That's the best way to go, because we seen it, we know," Bandy said.
Organizers say it will likely be six months before all of the new gauges are out and a year and a half before the study can be completed. A look at geography of other rivers in St. Tammany may follow.