Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS - Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said water in the Myrtle Grove area had risen 1.5 feet since the night before.

He said his biggest concern as he monitors Tropical Storm Debby is the possibility that water will overtop the vulnerable levees in Myrtle Grove, as it did during Tropical Storm Lee last year, shutting down the critical highway 23. It's the only major evacuation route for parts of the parish.

'When that floods, it shuts down everything in South Plaquemines,' said Nungesser.

Parish crews will be out place sand bags on top of the levee beginning at seven o'clock Sunday morning to make the levee a uniform four feet. Nungesser plans to declare a state of emergency for the parish at six o'clock Sunday morning.

Nungesser plans to continue closely monitoring weather conditions. If the storm surge strengthens, crews will line Highway 23 with Hesco baskets. Evacuations are possible for South Plaquemines Parish if the forecast for the area worsens.

'I think we need to be on our toes,' said Nungesser. 'There's no sense in panicking right now, but we'll be watching all night.'

Mary Tucker is certainly on her toes. She lives at the nearby Myrtle Grove Estates, which is outside levee protection. It quickly flooded during Tropical Storm Lee.

'Last year lee with Lee, which was supposed to be nothing, one hour it was dry and the next, we were under water,' said Tucker. 'They had to get me out by air boat.'

This time, Tucker is preparing ahead of time.

'This morning, I had my husband pick up all the loose wood,' said Tucker. 'I had my son pick up all the other loose stuff on the dock and put it in his boat.'

But Tucker's neighbor, Bob Boudet, is waiting for a more certain forecast before making sure his belongings are high and dry.

'I'm not nervous at all but I will be prepared,' said Boudet.

Meanwhile, Nungesser said the state signed a contract with the Corps of Engineers last week to double the height of levees in the Myrtle Grove area and make them part of the federal protection system. Construction is scheduled to begin next year.

The parish also plans to look into the possibility of a flood gate to help protect the Myrtle Grove Estates, since residents remain unprotected by the levee system.

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