By AMY WOLD
Advocate staff writer
August 31, 2012
BELLE CHASSE — Plaquemines Parish officials announced late Thursday that residents living north of the Phillips66 Refinery, formerly the Conocophillips refinery, can return home and a boil water advisory is in effect for Port Sulphur and east Point-la-Hache following Hurricane Isaac.
Parish spokeswoman Caitlin Campbell, in a news release, said there were no utilities in the refinery area nor was there a timeline for when they will return, but the threat of flooding has passed.
Also Thursday, authorities breached a levee to help drain floodwaters in the Braithwaite community.
Campbell also said Ironton, Myrtle Grove, Pointe Celeste and West Point a la Hache still face floodwaters and remain under evacuation orders. Because of the water on the La. 23 in those areas, she said, communities south of West Point a la Hache and the east bank are still under an evacuation.
Earlier Thursday, Louis McAnespy, 49, said several people in the Lake Hermitage community on the western side of Plaquemines Parish were stranded because of the rising water. A commercial fisherman by trade, McAnespy also has an 18-foot elevated house.
McAnespy said he and others used their boats — he lost some boats too — to rescue people before leaving for a staging area near the Alliance Refinery south of Belle Chasse where ambulances and medical personnel awaited residents in the area between West Point a la Hatch and the refinery.
Sheriff’s deputies, Louisiana National Guardsmen and many others brought residents in by airboat.
Josh Galt, owner of Cajun Boy Airboats, said engineers were using the airboats to inspect the levees and make a plan for what needed to be done about flooding which he said extended to West Point a la Hatch.
Below that point, he said, everything was dry.
“That’s the lowest part of the highway,” Galt said.
In order to help drain floodwaters in the Braithwaite community of west Plaquemines Parish, state and parish officials and local levee board authorities breached the Caernarvon Diversion Guide Levee on Thursday.
A small channel was dug into the guide levee at 3 p.m. and within minutes the water started draining into the Caernarvon Diversion channel and out of the residential area that had been flooded.
There was no estimate on how long it would take to get the area dry enough for people to return.
As part of the evacuation effort, Plaquemines Parish school buses were waiting to take people to Belle Chasse, but some people from other parts of the state and region drove down to pick up their family members.
Lee Abadie, 41, of Belle Chasse, was waiting for two of his wife’s uncles who had called family to say they were evacuating from Lake Hermitage.
“I heard they had 10 feet of water,” he said. “We (in Belle Chasse) did alright. We had a few leaks and rain blowing in through the window.”
That seemed to be the case for many people in Belle Chasse who were busy Thursday afternoon piling tree debris by the street curb, ridding their lawns of downed limbs and talking with neighbors.
Others waited in long lines at the few gasoline stations that still had power.
“I slept. I woke up. We had a lot of wind and lost power,” said John Knight, 31, of Belle Chasse.
At the shelter in Belle Chasse, many of the people were from the east side of Plaquemines Parish where a mandatory evacuation order had been issued before the storm.
Melvin Sino, 68, and his wife, Alice, 62, evacuated their home in Braithwaite on Monday in compliance with the evacuation order.
By Thursday afternoon, the couple was wondering when they could return home. They said they were certain their home got flooded.
“I’m just trying to hold up,” Alice Sino said.