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Brathwaite community stuck between a levee and a flooded place

Many residents believe the flooding they experience with major storms could have been avoided this time around.
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 10:39 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - People who live in Braithwaite on the East bank of Plaquemines Parish are gutting their homes yet again.

The community typically gets a devastating amount of water during major hurricanes, but this time neighbors felt like it didn’t have to flood like it did.

“I came in here with a boat and started gutting it out,” Mark Lobre said.

Lobre had more than four feet of water in his home.

The reason why the community flooded this time? The storm surge pushed through the sandbags filling in the gap the road leaves in the Parish’s back levee, outside of the Federal Levee Protection System.

“The levees held, from what I understand, the water got right to the top, but there’s a dip in the road six foot below the top of the levees, so they sandbag it with these big white sandbags and you still fall four foot short of the top of the levee,” Lobre said. “Then they didn’t even go up to the top of the levee so, the water just came gushing around the sides of the sandbags.”

“We knew we were in trouble when the water was coming over the road and over the railroad tracks,” Lawrence Bartron.

Bartron was watching the video while he and his wife were on vacation. They weren’t able to get back into their home until 10 days after the storm.

“I’d tell you to go inside and take your pictures in there, but it wouldn’t be healthy,” Bartron said.

Bartron had 4 to 5 feet of water in his home, however, it wasn’t even close to Isaac’s record when the water touched the second floor.

“I feel kind of used to it,” Bartron said. “I don’t like it, but we’ve been through it two other times.”

Even though major storms keep wreaking their havoc on this small community, they are determined to stay.

“You’re already invested, so what do you do?” Bartron asked.

“I got to rebuild, you know I can’t just see, letting that house go to waste,” Lobre said.

Neighbors do say it’s getting harder.

“I never had flood insurance,” Lobre said. “A lot of people didn’t have flood insurance. FEMA changed the flood maps back in January of this year and they made it unobtainable for people to get flood insurance back here.”

They say every time FEMA gives out grants to raise homes, it runs out fast.

But, they will rebuild, again.

“I never let anything chase me away,” Bartron said. “August 29 is gonna be a day to watch out for.”

Parish President Kirk Lepine says they put all the sandbags they could. He doesn’t believe there was much they could do to stop that wall of water. The same thing happened with their sandbag levee across Highway 23 on the West bank.

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