(AP/WVUE) - Plaquemines Parish work crews were rushing Saturday evening to repair a breach in a so-called "back levee" 20 miles south of Belle Chasse on the west bank.
The work was delayed for a couple hours while a Sheriff's department helicopter searched for a reported second breach. It turned out to be a false alarm, parish officials said.
The breach, which began yesterday, has flooded pasture land and forced ranchers to move their cattle.
"My cattle's in the back right there," said Khai Nguyen, a nearby landowner. "I don't know when I'm going to have to move them, but if it gets any worse, I'm going to have to move my cattle."
The parish planned to try to use rocks to plug the levee Saturday evening.
If that fails, a Louisiana National Guard helicopter could drop large sandbags Sunday.
The levee is barely a speed bump, only several feet high.
While it is usually enough to keep Barataria Bay from inundating areas outside the hurricane protection system, the levee has failed in various places five times since 2005.
"We've got a serious problem here," said Parish President Amos Cormier.
He points out Hurricane Harvey already crippled much of the Gulf Coast's refining capacity, causing gasoline prices to spike.
The levee protects a substation that supplies the Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery, Cormier noted.
While the breach poses no immediate public safety concern, parish officials say the breach exposes a fundamental weakness in the parish's hurricane preparedness.
"Highway 23 is the main corridor," Cormier said. "It's our main artery to get in and out."