High water in Livingston Parish rivers, driven by winds and rain from last week’s Hurricane Isaac, continued to drain slowly toward Lake Pontchartrain on Monday but many homes still remained under water.
The storm, which has produced the worst flooding in southern Livingston Parish since the flooding in 1983, has left its muddy mark, especially for those living around Maurepas.
Julie Alcea Parks and her husband, E.J., have lived in Maurepas for 30 years and she continues to run a notary public business from their home.
Across the street, their tenant, an Alaskan transplant, Ellyn Clevenger, has a small wooden law office dubbed “The Law Cabin.”
Clevenger’s small rental house to the rear of the Parks’ home and the law office were both flooded last week, and the main house barely missed getting water.
“I’m the notary and she’s the lawyer, and now we’re both out of business,” Julie Parks said, half-jokingly.
She said she had planned to stay because “this was such a wimp” of a hurricane, wind-wise.
By 5:30 a.m. Thursday, the Parks decided it was time to go..
“I kept looking on the water and kept wondering when it was going to stop,” she said. “I felt like Noah.”
On Monday, the water was down, but La. 22 remained mostly flooded in the Maurepas area.
Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks said the water is draining at different rates in different places. Tides are cooperating to push the water into Lake Pontchartrain, he said.
“It’s moving pretty good actually,” Ricks said. “It’d be nice to have a little breeze to push it on out more, but at least it’s been sunny today so that it’s drying things out.”
The improving conditions prompted Livingston Parish to end the nightly curfew that’s been in effect for the past week.
Officials did not have any estimates Monday on how many houses flooded or how many remain under water.
Albany High School, which has served as a shelter, was cleared out Monday so it and other Livingston Parish schools can reopen Tuesday.
An American Veterans Hall in Springfield is the new shelter site and had about 30 people still Monday, Ricks said.
As of Monday, about a dozen parish roads remained flooded or partially flooded, Ricks said.
The bathtub-like rings the flood waters left behind Monday on most homes showed the water about 2 to 3 feet below peaks levels set Wednesday and Thursday when flooding from Isaac was its worst.
“It’s got to come down about 2 more feet to get it under the banks, so people can start cleaning up,” said Brian Drury, fire chief of Livingston Parish Fire Protection District 2, which includes affected areas such as Springfield and Killian.
In Killian, along the Tickfaw River, the water already had come down enough for many residents to start cleaning out and they were hard at it Monday.
Clarence and Denise Jones moved to Killian from Marrero in January.
On Monday, a scant eight months after the move, crews had nearly gutted the place, which took in more than a foot of water. Debris filled their front yard.
The couple plans to get an estimate on the cost of raising the house several feet so it won’t flood next time.
Denise Jones said she and her husband moved there for the water and the fishing, but also because of the quality of the people living there. The storm and the way people have banded together have inspired her.
“It’s actually made me want to stay here even more,” she said.
The director of the parish’s Office of Emergency Preparedness, Mark Harrell, urged residents to separate vegetation debris from construction debris as they clean up their properties, because they are sent to different places.
“If it’s all mixed it’s difficult to all pick up,” Harrell said.
Law enforcement officers and firefighters continue to distribute clean-up kids, but also food, water, ice and supplies to those who need it.
In some cases, they continue to bring supplies in via boats.
“There are people who are stuck in a couple of subdivisions and they have no away to get out so we’re bringing in supplies,” Drury said.
Sheriff Jason Ard said the work is shifting for his deputies as they continue patrols.
“A few rescues here and there. Most of what we’re doing is helping people get in and out and check their homes,” Ard said.
Harrell said representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency plan to inspect a building Tuesday that might be used as a disaster relief center.
If it passes muster, Harrell said he hopes to have the center up and running by perhaps Thursday.
Harrell said he plans to have other relief groups locate in the center. He said the food stamp office is likely to be in another, more distant location.
He added he will push harder in the future to have the food stamp office located in the same place as the disaster relief center during future storms.