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08 - 26 - 2012

St. Bernard Parish and Plaquemines Parish preparing for Isaac hurricane

St. Bernard Parish and Plaquemines Parish preparing for Isaac hurricane Photo

As the National Hurricane Center currently has placed landfall for Isaac at Gulfport on Wednesday at 7 a.m. as a Category 2 hurricane, a hurricane watch continues to be posted that includes lower Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes. Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser this morning declared a state of emergency and St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta is holding off until he has afternoon phones conferences with the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and the National Weather Service.


Forecasters have warned that confidence in the storm's long-range track forecast "is quite low, and it is too early to determine exactly where and when Isaac will make landfall along the Gulf Coast." More tracking adjustments might be necessary later today.

This morning, Peralta and Bob Turner, regional director of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority - East, have been arguing about when to close the flood control structure at Bayou Bienvenue. The Bayou Durpre flood control structure already is closed due to ongoing construction.

The Bayou Bienvenue lock was scheduled to begin closing at about noon. Turner initially wanted to close the structure at 11 a.m., citing already rising water.

Peralta said he wants to push the closure until 3 p.m. so that fishermen still out in the area waters could have more time to return and has been working with Governor's Office. The fishermen could still get back home but it would take them much longer as they'd have to take alternative routes.

"Oyster luggers don't go that fast," Peralta said about the boats still out there. "They are not like a speed boat, a bass boat. It takes them 6 hours from Oakdale to the Bayou Bienvenue lock."

"The water (Bob Turner) is worried about, isn't in the streets yet," Peralta continued. "I need to get my boats in."

Peralta hopes that if the water recedes a bit this evening that the control structure could be temporarily reopened to allow some fishermen to return.

On the east bank of Plaquemines Parish, parish officials are lining newly raised levees with Visqueen, a plastic sheeting material, to protect areas with exposed dirt, according to a recent parish announcement. On the west bank of Plaquemines, additional Hesco baskets, similar to wire trash cans lined with fabric, are being added to close gaps in low lying area of Louisiana 23.

Sandbags are being added to levees that are part of the hurricane protection system in Pointe-a-la-Hache.

Plaquemines Parish officials plan to meet with Army Corps of Engineers officials later today to discuss plans for the barges currently pumping water into intakes in Port Sulphur and Pointe-a-la-Hache to prevent saltwater intrusion into the parish's drinking water supply.

The Plaquemines Parish website and Facebook page may provide further updates -- and Plaquemines residents who need transportation assistance, if the need to evacuate arises, should call 504.274.2470 to pre-register.

St. Bernard Parish officials are asking residents to review their personal plan and for people to sign up with the parish's emergency notification service provider, FirstCall, by calling 504.278.426.

St. Bernard officials say the FirstCall system will deliver emergency alerts to citizens and first responders about hurricanes and other serious events occurring in the surrounding area. The alerts will go to landlines, cell phones, SMS text messaging devices, email and pagers, according to the parish.

Interested parities also can register online at the parish's website, by cl,icking one the link "Please click here to register for St. Bernard Parish's Emergency Notification System" at the bottom of the home page. This is the direct link:

Storm surge could pose a significant threat outside the hurricane levee system, with preliminary estimates of 6 to 8 feet in Mississippi Sound and Lake Borgne, and 5 to 7 feet along lower St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes.

The National Hurricane Center forecasters say Isaac will have maximum sustained winds of 105 mph.

The Slidell office of the National Weather Service said Isaac's winds on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain are likely to reach 30 to 50 mph, with gusts to 70 mph, Tuesday night, increasing to 50 to 70 mph, with gusts to 90 on Wednesday.

Along the coast, winds will reach 60 to 80 mph, with gusts to 100 on Wednesday, with surge between 4 and 8 feet west of the river's mouth.