Friday, August 31, 2012

Outside New Orleans, Isaac leaves high water and resentment

LaPLACE, La. — Michael Turner was sitting on his porch when the lake roared in. Hurricane Isaac had not even made landfall, but suddenly water was roaring like a big-river rapid through the neighborhood, swallowing streets that had never seen such flooding, not even after Hurricane Katrina.

"It was like a wave," Turner said Thursday as boats plied the still-submerged neighborhood of River Forest in St. John the Baptist Parish, about 30 miles northwest of New Orleans. Some residents here suspect the improved, post-Katrina levee system that protected New Orleans during Isaac may have contributed to their misery by pushing more water back into nearby Lake Pontchartrain.

With Isaac's wind direction pushing wave after wave out of the roiling lake toward LaPlace, and with the slow-moving storm dropping rain for 48 hours, the conditions were set for disaster. Downpours and flash-flood warnings continued to plague the area Thursday, where hundreds have been evacuated or rescued from Isaac flooding. The amount of damage has not yet been assessed.

Unlike New Orleans, where a newly fortified $10-billion flood-control system protected the city from Isaac, many outlying parishes have not yet seen substantial improvements since Katrina.

"We had an opportunity after Katrina," said Karla Jones, as she watched boats travel down her street deeper into the flood zone. "Obviously, the message from Katrina didn't get through." Read More