St. John Parish leaders, residents react to Corps study - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

St. John Parish leaders, residents react to Corps report on Isaac

Nearly three months after Hurricane Isaac flooded the Cambridge subdivision in LaPlace, homeowner Leonard Lemar is finally making headway getting his home back in order.

"I still have stuff that needs to be sheet-rocked, put in and everything," said Lemar.

Just like his neighbors, he had to gut his home, and start over.   "Never had water, never. Never flooded on this lot, never, so I'm going both ways.  You hear this, you hear that, you don't really know," said Lemar.

Residents believe post-Katrina improvements to the New Orleans levee system pushed water into areas like St. John Parish, which never flooded like it did after Hurricane Isaac.

"And that is the opinion of many residents and officials in this area, that had that not been completed, that St. John Parish would not have flooded," said Parish President Natalie Robottom.

Robottom says a study has been under way for years to build a levee protection system.  "And I think our final study should have been the fact that we had water in our homes, the interstate system was under water for four days, evacuation route was completely shut off, Interstate 55, Airline Highway, River Road," said Robottom.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says Isaac's path, size and duration played a huge role in its overall destruction. According to a nearly 300-page post storm study released Friday by the Corps, levee improvements in New Orleans did not put parishes including St. John, St. Tammany, Plaquemines, and Tangipahoa, at greater risk.

But parish leaders say, regardless of what the numbers and models suggest, St. John flooded like never before, and areas federally protected did not.

"A million-plus people live along the perimeter of Lake Pontchartrain.  With just a few more feet of flood protection we can protect those regions from storm surge," said activist Sandy Rosenthall with Levees.org.  "We're talking two or three feet, the difference between a 100-year and a 1000-year storm." 

The Corps study is subject to an independent review. The Corps also plans to host public meetings to discuss it:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012: Open House 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. Presentation begins at 6:30 p.m. at Belle Chasse Auditorium - 8398 Hwy. 23, Belle Chasse, LA 70037
  • Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012: Open House 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. Presentation begins at 6:30 p.m. at the North Shore Harbor Center - 100 Harbor Center, Slidell, LA 70461
  • Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012: Open House 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. Presentation begins at 6:30 p.m. at the St. John Community Center - 2900 Hwy. 51, LaPlace, LA 70068
  • Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 Open House 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. Presentation begins at 6:30 p.m. at the General Government Building - 200 Derbigny St., Gretna, LA 70053
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