Quantcast

Days after Isaac, flooding and outages remain

Published: Sunday, Sept. 2 2012 6:00 p.m. MDT

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano speaks during a news conference about Isaac on Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012, at the Bay St. Louis Fire Station No. 1 in Bay St. Louis, Miss. Napolitano was told about 1,600 or more homes were flooded by overflowing rivers and two people reportedly died in Mississippi. The secretary praised emergency officials and said Obama was calling her frequently for updates. (Associated Press) Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano speaks during a news conference about Isaac on Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012, at the Bay St. Louis Fire Station No. 1 in Bay St. Louis, Miss. Napolitano was told about 1,600 or more homes were flooded by overflowing rivers and two people reportedly died in Mississippi. The secretary praised emergency officials and said Obama was calling her frequently for updates. (Associated Press)

NEW ORLEANS — Much of Plaquemines Parish southeast of New Orleans was still covered with floodwater Sunday and more than 200,000 people across Louisiana still didn't have any power, five days after Isaac ravaged the state. Thousands of evacuees remained at shelters or bunked with friends or relatives.

"My family is split up," said Angela Serpas, from severely flooded Braithwaite. Serpas and her daughter were staying with her in-laws while her husband and son were staying in Belle Chasse, a suburban area of the parish.

"This is the second time we've lost our home. We lost it in Katrina," she said.

At least seven people were killed in the storm in the U.S. — five in Louisiana and two in Mississippi. More than 2,800 people were registered at various state, local and Red Cross shelters in the state, down from around 4,000 earlier. State officials were uncertain how many people would eventually need longer-term temporary housing. Kevin Davis, head of the state's emergency office, said that housing would likely include hotels at first, then rental homes as close as possible to their damaged property.

Lovey, a cat belonging to Don Duplantier, meows from its kennel in a pirogue brought to transport him, from his flooded home in Braithwaite, La., in the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012.  (Gerald Herbert, Associated Press) Lovey, a cat belonging to Don Duplantier, meows from its kennel in a pirogue brought to transport him, from his flooded home in Braithwaite, La., in the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012. (Gerald Herbert, Associated Press)

President Barack Obama was to visit Louisiana Monday, a day ahead of the Democratic National Convention. He will meet with local officials, tour storm damage and view response and recovery efforts before addressing reporters at Saint John the Baptist Parish, the White House said. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney visited the state Friday. Obama's Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, visited Bay St. Louis, Miss., and Slidell, La., on Sunday.

"We are part of a team to make sure Hurricane Isaac is put to rest as soon as we can for all those affected," Napolitano said. "In the meantime, please know all of us are thinking about those in Louisiana who are without their homes or without their businesses."

Progress was evident in many places. Workers continued their return to offshore oil and gas production platforms and drilling rigs, electricity came on for hundreds of thousands of people and the annual Southern Decadence Festival, a gay pride celebration, carried on in the French Quarter.

Don Duplantier paddles a pirogue from his flooded home as floodwaters from Hurricane Isaac recede in Braithwaite, La., Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012. Duplantier had retrieved his cat and had collected his daughter's bridesmaid dress for the upcoming wedding of his son.  (Gerald Herbert, Associated Press) Don Duplantier paddles a pirogue from his flooded home as floodwaters from Hurricane Isaac recede in Braithwaite, La., Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012. Duplantier had retrieved his cat and had collected his daughter's bridesmaid dress for the upcoming wedding of his son. (Gerald Herbert, Associated Press)

In Baton Rouge, thousands of gamblers even gathered for the opening of Louisiana's newest riverboat casino— an opening that was delayed three days by Isaac.

In the New Orleans region, there were signs of a slow recovery. Workers continued to deal with toppled trees and downed power lines, driving remained hazardous in areas without working traffic lights, and New Orleans opened two cooling shelters so those with no electricity could escape the heat.

Much of Plaquemines Parish, a vulnerable finger of land that juts into the Gulf of Mexico, remained under as much as 5 feet of water, Parish President Billy Nungesser said. The Category 1 hurricane walloped the parish, and for many, the damage was worse than that from Katrina in 2005.

"I've never seen water come up this quick this fast," he said.

Don Duplantier walks through his flooded home as water recedes from Hurricane Isaac in Braithwaite, La., Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012. In the foreground is a sign marking the waterline from Hurricane Katrina, but floodwater from Isaac went all the way up to the second floor.  (Gerald Herbert, Associated Press) Don Duplantier walks through his flooded home as water recedes from Hurricane Isaac in Braithwaite, La., Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012. In the foreground is a sign marking the waterline from Hurricane Katrina, but floodwater from Isaac went all the way up to the second floor. (Gerald Herbert, Associated Press)

Nungesser said there were reports that cattle in the largely rural parish took refuge on porches. In one instance, cattle broke through a window and lumbered onto furniture to stay above water.

Controlled breaches of one overtopped levee and additional pumps are being used to get rid of the water.

Business owners and residents who evacuated from the west river bank of flooded south Plaquemines Parish will be allowed to return temporarily with police escorts on Monday.

Suburban communities farther north also had problems. Near Lake Pontchartrain, St. Tammany Parish officials kept watch over potential trouble spots along Isaac-swollen waterways.

An evacuation near the community of Bush was dialed back Sunday after authorities stabilized a lock in danger of failing on the Pearl River Diversion Canal. But St. Tammany authorities also were keeping an eye on the West Pearl River. Parish spokeswoman said about 5,000 homes near that waterway could be affected if it floods.

A cyclist holds an umbrella as he rides through the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, Ind. as the remnants of Hurricane Isaac's rain falls on Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012.  (The Journal & Courier, Brent Drinkut, Associated Press) A cyclist holds an umbrella as he rides through the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, Ind. as the remnants of Hurricane Isaac's rain falls on Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012. (The Journal & Courier, Brent Drinkut, Associated Press)

In Mississippi, Gov. Phil Bryant reported 125,000 people were evacuated, though most returned home Sunday. Less than 100 people remained in shelters. Bryant said 924 people had to be rescued during Isaac.

Entergy, which provides power to most of the people who lost it, was under fire over the weekend from local government officials for what they said was a slow pace of restoration. Jefferson Parish President John Young said widespread outages were hampering businesses' recovery from the storm and he would ask the state Public Service Commission to investigate.

Entergy spokesman Chanel Lagarde noted that Isaac had lingered over the state after Tuesday's landfall and said Friday was the first day the corporation could get restoration efforts into high gear.

"We are working hard. We do have a good plan and we're going about it in an approach that we think is going to be effective," Lagarde said.

In Mississippi, about 1,600 Entergy customers awaited power. Roughly 5,000 served by not-for-profit electric associations also had no service.

This Sept. 1, 2012 photo provided by the Louisiana Joint Information Center shows flooding in LaPlace, La. Louisiana State Police say Interstate 10, foreground, is open to traffic in both directions between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Police spokesman Capt. Doug Cain said the highway was fully reopened just before 12 p.m. CDT Saturday. But he said police dispatchers continue to be swamped with calls about the status of the highway in the wake of Hurricane Isaac.  (Louisiana Joint Information Center, Associated Press) This Sept. 1, 2012 photo provided by the Louisiana Joint Information Center shows flooding in LaPlace, La. Louisiana State Police say Interstate 10, foreground, is open to traffic in both directions between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Police spokesman Capt. Doug Cain said the highway was fully reopened just before 12 p.m. CDT Saturday. But he said police dispatchers continue to be swamped with calls about the status of the highway in the wake of Hurricane Isaac. (Louisiana Joint Information Center, Associated Press)

Napolitano met with Mississippi emergency officials and Bryant at a fire station in Bay St. Louis, Miss., and was scheduled to make a stop in Louisiana later in the day.

Bay St. Louis was devastated by Katrina seven years ago, but this time it was protected from Isaac's surge by a new seawall.

Burdeau reported from Bay St. Louis, Miss., and Slidell, La.

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company