As Isaac clears out, St. John shifts to recovery mode

Published 8:45 pm Thursday, August 30, 2012

LAPLACE – LaPlace and the rest of St. John the Baptist Parish is now in recovery mode after being pounded by wind and rain from Hurricane Isaac for more than 24 hours.

“We are doing pretty good,” said Paige Falgoust, director of communications for St. John Parish.

As of Thursday, about 19,000 people in St. John were without power, and water has been cut off to all of LaPlace. Although the seemingly endless rain contributed to the problem, it was the extended period of high winds that raised water in Lake Pontchartrain and flooded neighborhoods north of Airline Highway.

In response to the flood, the National Guard helped set up transport stations at New Wine Christian Fellowship and in the parking lot of the Home Depot in LaPlace to get affected residents to shelters in Alexandria and Baton Rouge.

Falgoust said thus far more than 31,000 people have been evacuated.

“We have been able to move a lot of people in a short period of time,” she said.

Although helicopters were initially used in rescue, and some efforts were made to go door to door in inundated areas, the tactics have now changed and rescue operations are being carried out on an on-demand basis.

Today, areas of Garyville and Reserve, especially along Airline Highway, that had been dry through Wednesday now started to take on water as Lake Maurepas began to rise.

Falgoust said that although the parish had experienced flooding in low lying areas in the past, the extent of the flooding, because of the sheer length of the storm, took many by surprise.

“When the storm surge came it was totally different than what this area experienced in the past,” said Falgoust, who noted that in certain areas the water was chest deep.

“It stayed over us for so long. It was a unique storm,” she said.

Although pockets of flooding remained, Falgoust said the parish is officially in recovery mode and the biggest concern now is returning water to LaPlace. There is currently no official timetable on that yet.

“We need the water levels to go down,” Falgoust said.

The parish is also working on setting up stations where residents can pick up essentials, but the locations have not been established yet.

A 6 p.m. curfew remains in affect for the entire parish and all parish schools will be closed until Tuesday, Sep. 4.