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New Orleans's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | New Orleans, Louisiana | WWLTV.com

Neighbors come together to move cattle as water tops levee in Plaquemines Parish

"This is our business ... they are our lives."

PLAQUEMINES PARISH, La. — As Hurricane Barry makes landfall on Louisiana’s coast, farmers in Plaquemines Parish are using airboats to herd their cattle to safety.

Neighbors are coming together and pooling resources to move cattle in the lowest-lying areas first, before moving their way up to the highway.

“These are friends of ours, we all help each other out in times of need,” Cherie, who owns a farm in the area, said. “These guys come help us out any time we need and we’re doing the same because they don’t have an airboat.”

Plaquemines Parish Homeland Security Director Patrick Harvey tells WWL-TV that crews started seeing overtopping along the back levee system that protects the Myrtle Grove and Pointe Celeste areas off Highway 23 around 5 a.m.

RELATED: Coast Guard rescues 12 trapped in Terrebonne Parish

The levees that are seeing overtopping are separate from the flood defenses that protect the parish from the Mississippi River.

"Hopefully the overtopping does not cause a breach," Harvey said. "If so, we will continue to fight that battle, trying to protect Highway 23 if we need to evacuate any other residents from the southern part of the parish."

Cherie said most people see this area as just cattle pasture that can flood and not cause any problems, but that’s far from true.

“This is our business. Cattle are our inventory just like any hardware store or department store … these are our inventory … this is our income, this is our livelihood,” she said. “Lots of people just don’t understand it, so they say ‘Oh it’s ok, we can just let the cattle pastures flood because it’s not going to hurt anything.’ They are our life, they are our pets. The majority of them have names.”

The storm threatening the Louisiana coast has strengthened to a hurricane.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said in its 11 a.m. Saturday advisory that Barry had reached maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, with higher gusts.

Hurricane-force winds were measured some 45 miles to the east of the storm's center, which was located 40 miles south of Lafayette, Louisiana. It was moving northwest at 6 mph.

Weather forecasters said a hurricane warning is in effect for Intracoastal City to Grand Isle. Such a warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area.