River Parishes remain vulnerable to storm surge threats

Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 8:19 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - One of the most dangerous parts of any hurricane is the storm surge.

A storm penetrating inland southwest of Lake Pontchartrain means major problems for the western edge of the lake and those surrounding communities. Ida was another example of the threat storm surge poses to those communities and highlights the lack of protection from those people.

Thanks to modern technology and a dedicated storm chaser, FOX 8 was able to watch Ida’s devastating storm surge unfold as it happened. One of the most eye-opening storm surge videos ever captured happened in a typically subdued Lake Pontchartrain at Frenier Landing near Laplace.

Incredible video shows massive storm surge into Frenier Landing in LaPlace

Ida’s intensity and slow-moving nature allowed the water to pile up, pushing a surge across the lake and into the western half. This led to surge values being recorded over 11 feet at Frenier and over eight and a half feet on the Northshore in Mandeville.

Mark Sudduth with HurricaneTrack.com has devoted years of research and technology advancements to achieve this shot during a storm. Here it was, a major storm sending multiple feet of water over normally dry ground, destroying homes, businesses, and livelihoods.

The threat of storm surge can be easily seen in aftermath videos from these major storms, but this was a real-time video showing just how destructive the power of water can be.

It also tells the tale of how dangerous conditions would be if you tried to ride out a major hurricane in a surge-prone area.

For many years now, we have known the threat of storm surge in Lake Pontchartrain.

Dating back to Isaac in 2012, Laplace and the surrounding communities have seen their flood risk increase.

FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2012 file aerial photo, homes flooded by Hurricane Isaac in...
FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2012 file aerial photo, homes flooded by Hurricane Isaac in Braithwaite, La., are seen. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)(David J. Phillip | AP)

There is hope that in the years to come, a surge barrier will be built to protect places in many of these western Lake Pontchartrain areas.

The West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane Protection Project is an 18.5-mile system that includes levees, a T-wall, drainage structures, pump stations, and several non-structural protection measures.

The project will span from the Bonnet Carre Spillway to the Mississippi River levee near Garyville, providing 100-year protection to nearly 60,000 residents in St. Charles, St. James, and St. John the Baptist Parishes.

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Now, as these residents wait for protection, another hurricane season begins and there remains little to keep the water out if we’re threatened again.

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