Nearly stationary Hurricane Isaac has already caused residents to begin saving people stranded on rooftops and in attics in 12 to 14 feet of water as levees fail and the storm slowly lashes toward Assumption Parish, only fifty-three miles southeast of Houma, Louisiana, less than 100 miles south of Bayou Corne’s sinkhole where a hurricane warning is in effect Wednesday and at 8:00 a.m. and officials report trees and power lines falling and winds to intensify.
At 9:00 a.m., the National Weather Service reports that Hurricane Isaac is near Houma, Louisiana that is approximately fifty miles south of the Bayou Corne giant sinkhole over the Napoleonville Salt Dome.
“We have reports of trees down in the Napoleonville and Paincourtville area, one blocking Highway 401 (Canal Road) where work is being done to remove it from the roadway,” Assumption Parish officials reported at 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, urging residents who remained to stay sheltered.
About 75% of New Orleans residents are already without power.
“For many people, it’s not even half over,” said Richard Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center, saying that pounding rains will persist “all day today, into tonight, into tomorrow.”
Officials have declared that there would be no rescue services of fire vehicles or ambulances in Assumption Parish after Isaac’s winds are sustained at 50 miles per hour., according to officials in a curfew and mandatory evacuation alert issued Tuesday.
Closer to Isaac, residents have already begun rescuing neighbors in areas where waters have quickly risen, forcing people into attics and onto rooftops to prevent drowning.
Katrina deja vu
“We have reports of people on their roofs, in attics, in 12 to 14 feet of water,” said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.
In a deja vu scenario of Hurricane Katrina, residents have saved at least one woman on her roof and saved two other people, according to Nungesser, but others are stranded on roofs in waters quickly rising.
Homes in up to 14 feet of water are on the east bank of a levee, but “this storm is going to kick around and deliver the same type of flow to the west bank,” Ningesser said.
The levee in the parish overtopped Wednesday. It was not upgraded after Hurricane Katrina, that struck seven years ago today.
Katrina-style flooding surrounding the coastal waters has pushed over and through some levees and gates.
“That levee, according to the National Weather Service, is maintained by the parish and not part of the federal hurricane protection levee system,” reports CNN.
Resident Gene Oddo told WWL, a CNN affiliate, that he was in his attic with his wife and 18-month-old baby girl.
“The water came up so quick, it looks like we lost everything,” he said. He and his wife have drinking water, baby food and other necessities, he said.
“I would rather be here to save what I can, because insurance doesn’t cover all that much,” Oddo said.
His neighbors, including a 92-year-old who refused to leave his home, were in a similar predicament, he said.
Shelter in place, abide curfew in sinkhole area
“Downed power lines have been reported in the Paincourtville, Bertrandville, and Labadieville areas. Entergy has advised us that they have pulled their trucks and workers off of the roads to ensure their safety,” the official report reads.
“Flood threat from heavy rains likely to continue through today and tonight,” the National Hurricane Weather Service reports at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday.
“I spoke to the Sheriff just a minute ago and he and his department are currently [assessing] damage in the area,” Assumption Parish president Marty Triche said in a written statement Wednesday morning.
Parish officials have recently stated that they worry about a possible explosion related to the sinkhole since there is a large butane well in the same salt dome as the Texas Brine Co. storage cavern that is believed to be failing.
The officials advised Tuesday evening that emergency vehicles, such as Acadian Ambulance and fire department vehicles will not respond once winds are sustained at 50 miles an hours.
There has been no official statement regarding the sinkhole following the recent briefings.
On Aug. 3, after months of thousands of earthquakes and multiple sites of percolating gas bubbles in the nearby bayous, the earth opened, swallowing trees over one hundred feet tall and gulping land along with them into a bubbling sinkhole. A mandatory evacuation of the nearby Bayou Corne community was called.
The category 1 hurricane is traveling slowly, only 6 miles an hour, according to the National Weather Service, feeding it to become stronger as its eye wall approaches the sinkhole.
“We cannot express enough to all to abide by the curfew and shelter in place, Triche reports.
“The winds will become much stronger as the day progresses.”
Sources: CNN, Assumption Parish Police Jury, The Wall Street Journal, The National Weather Service