Louisiana officials on Wednesday ordered the evacuation of some 3,000 people in a parish outside New Orleans and are continuing to rescue dozens of others in the same area trapped by rapidly rising floodwaters caused by Hurricane Isaac.
Plaquemines Parish has emerged so far as the area of southeastern Louisiana that has received the most significant damage from the storm, which continues to crawl over the coastal area, carrying with it 75 mile per hour winds and driving rain that has led to calamitous flooding.
“We haven’t seen anything like this, not even with Katrina,” said Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish, located about 95 miles from New Orleans. “Those areas that didn’t flood for Katrina were flooded for this storm. If this is a Category 1 storm, I don’t want to see anything stronger.”Mr. Nungesser said that officials had concluded that a levee protecting a portion of the parish was not tall enough to hold back quickly accumulating water. “We don’t believe we have enough height,” he said, “to keep the water back.”
Gov. Bobby Jindal said officials had been mulling intentionally causing a breach in the levee to keep it from being overtopped.The fire department is going door to door in the area, and evacuees, including some of those in a nursing home, will be transported to higher ground in school buses, officials said.On Wednesday morning, another levee in the parish was overtopped, causing extensive flooding and stranding more than 100 people who ignored evacuation orders.
Dozens of people are still awaiting rescue on rooftops and in attics.The levee is not one of the large, federally maintained earthworks lining the Mississippi River, but a locally maintained levee some 8 feet high, and lower than the 12-foot surge that hit it, according to officials from the Army Corps of Engineers. The water threatened people living along the east bank of the parish, near the mouth of the Mississippi River.