Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @mhernandezwwl

LAPLACE, La. - It's been more than two months since a storm surge rushed into Keith and Jami Hirstius' LaPlace. They just back in moved in Wednesday and continue to rebuild.

They remember being rescued as if it were yesterday.

'It come in both ways and you could surf in my living room,' said Keith Hirstius.

'Hit me right about here when we stepped into the boat,' said Jami Hirstius, motioning toward her chest. 'That's never happened before.'

Flood waters in nine LaPlace subdivisions hit unprecedented levels during Isaac. It prompted storm victims to ask questions about whether the recently completed federal levee system around the New Orleans area funneled extra water into places that lie outside the system, like LaPlace.

'It's got to go somewhere. It came to LaPlace,' said Keith Hirstius. 'Ask 7,000 people.'

But the Corps of Engineers announced Friday the results of an assessment showing the federal levee system actually helped reduce the storm surge in LaPlace by about one inch.

'Both Lake Borgne and Lake Pontchartrain are very big bodies of water,' said Corps of Engineers Col. Ed Fleming. 'They have a lot of area to absorb and they have a lot of surface area for water to spread out in.'

In a nearly 300 page report, Corps officials said the new levees had a minimal impact on surrounding areas.According to report, most areas outside the system either saw no extra storm surge or received one extra inch of surge.

The Corps estimates Crown Pointesaw the greatest impact of any inhabited community, an extra four inches of surge. The uninhabitated area just South of the West Closure Complex, they say, saw an extra nine inches.

'You're talking less than 10 percent of the entire overall surge that we saw,' said Fleming.

But Tim Kerner, mayor of the town of Jean Lafitte near Crown Pointe, believes the impact was much greater. He said even four extra inches of storm surge can make a big difference.

Still, Fleming said the way in which Isaac hit explains why some areas outside the levee protection system saw so much water.

'Every hurricane is unique, and you've got to look at the path of the hurricane and you've got to look at the forward speed at which that hurricane moves through the area,' saidFleming.

Butthose like the Hirstiuses say they're not convinced.

'They don't want to take responsibility for places that's never flooded before. Ever,' said Keith Hirstius.

You can view the results of the Corps of Engineers nearly 300 page assessment of the impacts of the post-Katrina federal levee system at

The Lousiana Water Resources Council has begun an independent external peer review of the Corps' assessment.

Results are expected to be available in the spring.

The Corps will hold public meetings on its assessment beginning next week.

Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012
Open House 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. Presentation begins at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Belle Chasse Auditorium - 8398 Hwy. 23, Belle Chasse, LA 70037

Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012
Open House 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. Presentation begins at 6:30 p.m.
Where: North Shore Harbor Center - 100 Harbor Center, Slidell, LA 70461

Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012
Open House 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. Presentation begins at 6:30 p.m.
Where: St. John Community Center - 2900 Hwy. 51, LaPlace, LA 70068

Monday, Nov. 19, 2012
Open House 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. Presentation begins at 6:30 p.m.
Where: General Government Building - 200 Derbigny St., Gretna, LA 70053
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