Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

August 29, 2012

Officials may breach levee as Isaac storms inland

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Newly downgraded Tropical Storm Isaac plodded its way across Louisiana on the seventh anniversary of Katrina, with officials weighing whether to bust a hole in a levee to relieve some of the water that was spilling over a wall in a rural part of the state Wednesday.

Rescues were carried out there while in New Orleans, the levee system was holding, though power lines were downed and debris littered the streets, prompting officials to impose a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said officials may cut a hole in a levee on the east bank of Plaquemines Parish to relieve pressure on the structure. At a news conference in Baton Rouge, Jindal said there was no estimate on when that might occur.

He said as many as 40 people are reportedly in need of rescue in the area.

Plaquemines Parish has also ordered a mandatory evacuation for the west bank of the Mississippi River below Belle Chasse, worried about a storm surge. The order affects about 3,000 people in the area, including a nursing home with 112 residents.

Officials said the evacuation was ordered out of concern that more storm surge from Isaac would be pushed into the area and levees might be overtopped.

Joshua Brockhaus, an electrician who lives in the flooded area, helped rescue neighbors in his boat.

"I'm getting text messages from all over asking for help," he said. "I'm dropping my dogs off and I'm going back out there."

The hurricane's impact was a surprise for him.

"We didn't think it was going to be like that," he said. "The storm stayed over the top of us. For Katrina, we got 8 inches of water. Now we have 13 feet."

Alvin Sylve, a disabled former long-distance truck driver, was preparing to evacuate. He lived on street with rows of doube- and single-wide trailers in Jesuit Bend in Plaquemines Parish, an area outside the federal levee system where people were ordered to evacuate Wednesday as conditions worsened.

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