Choppers drop 1/2 ton sandbags to fix broken levee

Choppers drop 1/2 ton sandbags to fix broken levee

ALLIANCE, LA (WVUE) - The Louisiana National Guard is playing a critical role repairing a levee breach in Plaquemines Parish.

The levee, maintained by Conoco Phillips, is on the bayou side of LA 23 across from the refinery.

A refinery worker discovered the breach Friday afternoon while cutting grass.

Plaquemines Parish crews quickly worked to dam the breach overnight Friday, but the remote location made their efforts difficult and crews were only able to place a few half-ton bags of sand near the breach.

By Saturday afternoon the breach grew from about 20-feet wide to at least 50-feet, as the Louisiana National Guard stepped in to help, offering assistance by air.

"A huge difference, it was taking like 30 minutes or so for our crews to make the trek from the jump point to the actual breach with one or two sandbags. So it's helping out a bunch," Michael Powell, a spokesperson for Plaquemines Parish, said.

Guardsmen loaded two half-ton sandbags at a location nearby and then used Black Hawk helicopters to drop the bags off every four minutes.

"It's gonna progressively get worse as the water continues to flow through the breach and the scouring of the back levee. This is not a river levee, this is a back levee event and it's very, very remote, we couldn't have done this any other way than by air," State Representative Chris Leopold said.

It's unclear how the breach formed, but officials said the guard would work until nightfall and then pick up their efforts first thing Sunday morning.

While water continues to flow, Parish officials are confident it won't impact any residents.

"No one's in immediate danger, Hwy 23 is still passable, will be passable, there's no communities at stake here, it's just a broken levee and we want to make sure the water doesn't rise too much in the drainage canals it goes into," Powell said.

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