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One man's misery, complete with armadillo, in Plaquemines Parish

August 31, 2012|By Tina Susman

NEW ORLEANS -- Hurricane Isaac is over, but the misery isn't, especially for people like Samuel George, who was displaced twice in the chaos -- first when water swamped his home and again Friday when the shelter he was in shut down.

"I probably will never actually go home again," the slightly built man in an oversized shirt and pants said as he stood outside the YMCA in Belle Chasse, La.

The city is in Plaquemines Parish, an area outside the federal levee zone that protected New Orleans and the site of some of the worst and most dramatic flooding. George saw it first-hand: He lived in a trailer in Braithwaite, which was inundated late Tuesday and early Wednesday as Isaac was at its peak strength here.

PHOTOS: Isaac pounds Gulf Coast

Like a lot of people, George figured he could ride this storm out -- he's managed others. But at about 4 a.m. Wednesday, his luck ran out.

"I woke up and heard some watery noises," said George. He reached down and felt water. "I got up and thought, 'This is bad.'" He smelled gas and tried to open the door to get outside. It wouldn't budge. He pushed harder and harder, finally dislodging the blockade: his broken porch, which floated off in the raging, fast-rising water.

Like scores of neighbors, George climbed to his roof and waited. A fawn drifted past, then swam back and eventually joined him. An armadillo arrived and also settled on the roof. Eventually, someone came and put them in a boat.

George ended up at the YMCA, but parish officials announced Friday that it was time to go. "They sprung it on us this morning," said George, who opted out of getting on a bus with the other "refugees," as he called them, and going to another shelter in Shreveport. He was planning to stay with a friend until he is able to go back to Braithwaite and check on his trailer.

"I'm sure I can't salvage anything," said George.

That was the least of his worries, though. After officials announced that two people had been found dead in their home in Braithwaite, George was concerned they were his neighbors, a couple who had refused to leave even as the water rose around them.

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tina.susman@latimes.com

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