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Plaquemines Parish remains flooded by Isaac; levee to be breached

August 29, 2012|By Richard Simon and Connie Stewart

As Hurricane Isaac weakened to a tropical storm but continued to unleash heavy rain, winds and a dangerous storm surge along the northern Gulf Coast, authorities said they would breach a levee in flooded Plaquemines Parish to try to relieve pressure.

But weather conditions were too severe to try it Wednesday, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority head Garret Graves told the Associated Press. It was unclear how quickly authorities could get needed equipment to the site, south of New Orleans.

Isaac came ashore Tuesday night with 80-mph winds and driving rain in the parish, where levees have yet to be reinforced after 2005’s catastrophic Hurricane Katrina. In New Orleans, where the flood-control system has mostly been upgraded, levees were holding.

PHOTOS: Isaac lashes Gulf Coast

In Plaquemines, at least 118 people were rescued, including 25 trapped on their roofs or in their attics as water rose 14 feet, Reuters reported. Animals were rescued too, including about 15 dogs, a cat in a cage, even a fawn.

The “Cajun Navy” -- private citizens with boats -- led the rescue effort, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser told CNN.

“We didn't think it was going to be like that,” electrician Joshua Brockhaus told the Associated Press after rescuing flood-stranded neighbors in his boat. “The storm stayed over the top of us. For Katrina, we got 8 inches of water. Now we have 13 feet.” 

MAP: The path of Isaac

About 2,000 residents had been ordered to evacuate, but only about half were known to have done so before the storm landed, Nungesser said.

St. Bernard Parish Sheriff James Pohlmann said his office had been helping with rescues, evacuations and hurricane response in Plaquemines since 3 a.m. Wednesday.

“What we were hoping for is come nightfall, maybe the effects of the hurricane will decrease and we can get out and start cleaning up,” he said.

The National Guard was also pitching in.

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