Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hurricane Isaac



























It's still hard to believe that Louisiana would be hit by a hurricane on the eve of Hurricane Katrina's seventh anniversary, and that's probably why most people chose to ride this one out at home, as I did; no one I know thought it would be as bad as it was, but Isaac suddenly gained strength shortly before making landfall at the tip of Southwest Pass (Burrwood) the evening of August 28th. Now it's obvious that if there's any place where lightning can strike twice in the same place, it's Louisiana.

The storm itself was actually not too bad wind-wise; no more than minor wind damage is seen around the southeastern part of the state. Instead, this was another flood event. New Orleans' new and improved levee system worked just fine and the pumps kept up, resulting in no more than mild street flooding for a storm that lingered for 48 hours in our area. 

However, areas outside this system got flooded just as badly as in Katrina, even though Isaac only registered as a Cat-1 storm with top winds of 80 mph. The size of the storm was huge, however, and this pushed a 15 foot surge onto the coast. Parts of Plaquemines Parish, La Place, and the North Shore got it the worst, making it apparent that to have Louisiana perfectly hurricane-proof, major flood control structures must be built at the Rigolets and Chef Menteur Pass, along with a higher and reinforced back levee for the east bank of Plaquemines Parish.

I have made one venture into Plaquemines so far since the storm, and it is so heavily policed I am not able to work as comfortably as I'd like, but I did manage to get a few shots yesterday, with the above photo showing a drowned cow near the west bank half of Pointe a la Hache.

The barbaric stench of rotting dead animals was almost unbearable -- over 1,000 cattle drowned in the storm -- and I was literally gagging while I took the above photo. I'll be heading downriver again many times to continue documenting the after-effects of this storm for my project, The End of the Great River, which has had yet another twist put into its plot.