The eye of Hurricane Isaac is to crawl with 75 mph winds and higher right through the giant Bayou Corne sinkhole area in Assumption Parish and pound it with rain for five hours, according to parish officials Wednesday during their mid-morning briefing update as they attempt to keep locals who did not evacuate safe.
“The forecast has again shifted track bringing the eye through the middle of Assumption parish towards the Labadieville area,” parish officials stated, despite their parish residents without power now due to Isaac.
Power lines and trees have already been knocked onto roads and the worst is yet to come, according to the National Weather Service.
“The storm is expected to take the eye of the storm FIVE HOURS to enter and exit Assumption,” parish officials asserted in its written update this morning
Isaac is presently a Category 1 hurricane pouring torrential rains and flooding parts of south Louisiana.
Wind gusts over 80 mph extend 60 miles from Isaac’s center, with winds nearly 40 mph extending up to 185 miles.
“The slow-moving storm is expected to pelt Louisiana and coastal areas today and Thursday, bringing as much as 20 inches of rain,” USA Today reports Wednesday, just what the giant sinkhole, last reported to be the size of three football fields, does not need.
“At approximately 2:00 p.m., be prepared for sustained winds of 70 mph with gusts up to 85 mph,’ Assumption Parish.
Assumption Parish is now without electric power and power lines as well as trees are blocking many roads, according to residents who spoke with the Examiner.
One of the worst hit areas so far is Plaquemines Parish, approximately 50 miles southeast of New Orleans, where water spilled over a levee as Isaac passed directly over the region’s marshland, fishing towns and marinas, peeling off roofs, flooding some areas and sending residents into attics and rooftops to escape drowning.
“It could be before 7:00 p.m. where we are still experiencing hurricane force winds and by 11:00 pm that we are experiencing tropical storm force winds,” the Assumption parish officials warn.
Less than 60 miles away, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, “One of the great challenges with this storm … is that it’s going so slowly … which means that it’s going to hover over us,” he told the Weather Channel on Wednesday morning.
“The longer the rain and the greater the wind … (that) continues to concern us. That wind is really, really heavy, which is why it’s important you stay inside.”
Besides having to manage downed trees across roadways from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, state police have encountered residents who may have underestimated the storm, according to state police spokesman Capt. Doug Cain.
Troopers kept busy throughout Tuesday night with highway accidents, broken down cars and several DWI arrests.
“People aren’t adhering to the warnings,” Cain said. “Today, we’re really encouraging people to shelter in place.”
Early Wednesday, state police troopers escorted National Guard troops with high-water vehicles down further south to help in rescue efforts, state police spokesman Capt. Cain said.
Many roads throughout south Louisiana have become impassable.
Officials battle to keep sinkhole area residents safe and sound
The giant sinkhole in Assumption Parish that developed on Aug. 3 after months of gas bubbling sites emerging on nearby bayous and thousands of earthquakes is in the Bayou Corne community area in Assumption Parish where officials are trying to keep safe and sound residents who stayed despite the officials’ mandatory evacuation.
Officials expressed concern about explosions at the sinkhole area, before Isaac developed.
To protect security rights of people and property, parish officials called a strict curfew for all of Assumption Parish starting midnight Tuesday night.
“We cannot express the curfew enough,” parish president Marty Triche again asserted Wednesday morning.
“Please refrain from riding and sightseeing as there are trees and power lines reported down on area roadways,” he said, adding, “This is for your own safety.”
The costliest hurricane to make landfall to date has been Hurricane Katrina, a Category 5 storm that hit Louisiana in August of 2005.
Damages cost an estimated $91 billion. Most of that damage, including many explosions, was oil and gas industry-based. More oil dumped onto south Louisiana during and after Katrina than the Exxon Valdez oil disaster.
Assumption Parish Sheriff Mike Waguespack is among those who expressed worries about the giant sinkhole area exploding – before Isaac appeared on the scene.
Sources: USA Today, Assumption Parish Police Jury, Reuters, Examiner – Bayou Corne Sinkhole Disaster