As Braithwaite park drains, residents see damage


Posted on September 4, 2012 at 6:28 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 4 at 6:41 PM

Katie Moore / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @katiecmoore

BRAITWAITE, La. -- Some residents who evacuated closer to home are getting their first glimpse of their flooded homes this week. On the East bank of Plaquemines Parish, water was up to the rooftops in many locations.

Now, some are focused on getting the water to drain, while others try to come to grips with losing everything again.

A wall of water in Braithwaite wiped nothing clean during Hurricane Isaac. It’s something Russell Gelvin discovered when he entered the first floor of his Braithwaite Park home for the first time Tuesday.

“It's unbelievable. A lot of hard work. I built this house. I rebuilt this house myself,” Gelvin said.

It was his first time home, even though he comes here almost every day.

“’Cause I've been trying to get the water out so everybody else can pick up their pieces, you know,” he said.

Gelvin works for the Lake Borgne Levee District, and he and other St. Bernard volunteers have been pushing for days to let them cut six holes in the levees that form a ring around Braithwaite Park to get the water out.

By Tuesday, the water was low enough that residents like Pete Maltese could get back by boat to survey the damage. He lost most of his photos and personal things in his Chalmette home during Katrina, and after six years in Gonzales, he moved here.

“Finally came back home. But that's how it works out when you want to live home,” Maltese said as he choked back tears.

As residents come back in to Braithwaite Park, they're not just dealing with the flood water. They're dealing with everything the floodwater brought with it, including mud and chemicals.

“It's bad right now. Hopefully in a couple of months it'll get better,” Maltese said.

It seems right now, time is standing still and people who have rebuilt two and three times are at their breaking point.

Two people died in Braithwaite as a result of Isaac's storm surge. A spokesman for the Plaquemines Parish Coroner said Tuesday the autopsy report confirms they did drown; however, he can't release their identities because their next of kin is all out of state.