Residents Feel Abandoned After Isaac
Residents Feel Abandoned After Isaac, Billions of dollars were spent to protect New Orleans after Katrina, but other towns weren’t so fortunate. Isaac renews old debate about Louisiana levees, When Hurricane Isaac whirled into the Gulf Coast this week, the federal levee system protecting New Orleans did its job. But the patchwork of floodwalls shielding subdivisions outside the city and rural fishing and farming communities was no match for the drenching storm.
As the cleanup began Friday, an old debate grew more urgent: Is it worth billions of dollars to build better levees in areas that are sparsely populated and naturally flood-prone?
Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Army Corps of Engineers has backed away from the idea of extending protection across much of south Louisiana, citing doubts about whether improved levees would work and whether the money could be better spent elsewhere.
None of that sits well with locals, who feel abandoned.
“Each time you have a hurricane, you are going to spend enormous amounts of money on search and rescue, rebuilding churches, schools, everything, just like right here in Ironton,” said Charles J. Ballay, district attorney of Plaquemines Parish, as he rode atop an airboat looking for stranded residents. “This was a Category 1 storm and look at what it has done.”
The town baseball field was a lake, water lapped inside living rooms and children’s toys bobbed in the high water. Not far away, ranchers tried to save a herd of cattle that stood neck-deep in the flood.
About 1 million people in coastal Louisiana live outside the massive levee system that protects greater New Orleans, and almost all of them are at risk of flooding during a major storm.
For decades, Louisiana has pressed the federal government to erect larger, stronger levees in areas vulnerable to hurricanes. The calls for better protection intensified after Isaac.
“These people don’t deserve this,” Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu told WVUE-TV near Braithwaite, a community flooded to the rooftops when a nearby non-federal levee was overwhelmed by Isaac’s storm surge. “We have to fight harder and stronger for protection for everyone. You know, on one side of the levee it’s completely dry. Houses are safe. Families are going back to normal. And on the other side, it’s a nightmare.”