Thousands evacuated in St. John; more looking for rescue


Posted on August 29, 2012 at 6:49 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 30 at 11:56 AM
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LAPLACE, La. –  Thousands of St. John Parish sought refuge in shelters around Louisiana after they were forced to flee floodwaters from Hurricane Isaac. The woes are not over for the parish. Residents to the west of the initial wave of evacuation are beginning to call for help, looking for rescue from flooded neighborhoods.

Most people in the parish were bused to Alexandria and the additional overflow of evacuees were sent to Shreveport.

"Clearly, there was not an expectation for any of these neighborhoods to flood," said Natalie Robottom, the parish president for St. John.

"There is something wrong with this picture," said Robottom. "This has never happened. Water flowed over I-10."

Over 3,300 St. John residents were evacuated from the parish, said Robottom. The LaPlace area was hit the hardest as almost of the subdivisions north of Airline Highway had to be evacuated after Lake Pontchartrain spilled into the neighborhood.

Robottom asked for assistance for the evacuees and the residents of the parish. LaPlace remains without water. The water was shut of in LaPlace due to the high water and worries that it could be contaminated. 

Ninety-five percent of the parish is without power, said Robottom.

Robottom called the flooding "unprecedented," saying some areas in LaPlace had 7-8 feet water. 

The flooding was caused because of a huge hole in the parish's flood defense: no levee along Lake Ponchartrain. The parish has been asking for assistance to build a levee along Lake Pontchartrain, said Robottom, like in St. Charles, Jefferson and Orleans parishes.

The chilling sight of hundreds of residents surrounded by water on what appeared to be a small strip of land was eerily reminiscent of scenes seven years earlier of people waiting to be rescued after Katrina.

Residents who were escaping the water were doing so with few possessions, saying they weren’t given much warning.

“It came up slow and kept rising,” said one person waiting for a bus. “It was a surprise.”

Those who were boarding buses were being given white bracelets upon signing in to try to keep track of people and keep families together.

People who could get out to pick up points on their own were asked to do so, to limit the number of door-to-door rescues that would be required.

Pick up points are:

  • Area: Cambridge, Pick up Point: Home Depot
  • Area: New Hwy 51 Pick up Point: Car Wash on Hwy 51 and Home Depot
  • Area: Belle Terre Pick up Point: Corner of St Andrews Blvd and Country Club Drive

    Those who can’t walk to a pick up point were asked to call 985-652-2222.