Monday, 05 September 2011 00:45

Tropical Storm Lee Causes Levee Breech, A Mandatory Evacuation In South Louisiana

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It was only a tropical storm, but, Tropical Storm Lee has caused the ovetopping and breaching of a interim levee and the mandatory evacuation of a small town in South Louisiana. 

 The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-West (SLFPA-W) announced that late today a section of the interim levee east of the Harvey Canal between the canal and a permanent, 100-year floodwall was overtopped, then breached. Residential or business areas protected by the 100-year floodwall are not at risk from the overtopping, however.

Vehicular gates in the permanent, 20-foot-tall floodwall were closed immediately as soon as the interim levee was overtopped with water driven from the south and southeast by Tropical Storm Lee. The Authority earlier today had identified a small area of seepage in the interim levee and installed 3,000-pound sand bags along approximately 110 feet of the interim levee where it intersects with the permanent floodwall in an effort to prevent any potential damage.

Susan Maclay, President of SLFPA-W, said the overtopping affects businesses that are located along the Harvey Canal on the unprotected side of the floodwall, including Boomtown Casino. The vehicular floodgates will not be reopened until the threat from high water has passed and the impacted area has drained.

The interim levee was improved in 2008 and designed to provide flood protection as the new floodwall was under construction by the Corps of Engineers. That levee now serves as secondary protection against surges. The floodwall is part of the West Bank and Vicinity Hurricane Protection Project, which is nearing completion and is designed to protect the community from surges caused by so-called 100-year storms.

The Harvey Canal sector gates near the Lapalco Boulevard bridge were closed over the weekend because of higher-than-normal water levels in the canal. Water levels in sections of the canal south of the sector gates remain high, resulting in water against the interim levee and the eventual overtopping and breaching.

The Authority notified Jefferson Parish officials of the seepage and continues to be in frequent contact with Parish President John Young and other area officials.

Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner strongly recommends residents in the Town of Jean Lafitte, Crown Point, Barataria, and areas outside the levee protection system heed his mandatory evacuation order.  If assistance is needed to evacuate, residents may call 911.

Southeast winds continue to push a significant tidal surge into parts of lower Jefferson Parish. Conditions are not expected to improve until this weather system moves to the east of the New Orleans metropolitan area and winds shift.

The shelter at PARD Playground, 5185 Eighty Arpent Road, Marrero, remains open for residents of the evacuated areas of lower Jefferson Parish.  Individuals who evacuate are asked to bring personal items needed to sustain themselves until the evacuation order is lifted.

At this time, rainfall totals on the Eastbank measure nearly 12.8 inches of rain and as much as 14.8 inches on the Westbank.

Entergy reports approximately 171 homes and businesses in Jefferson Parish are without power at this time.

Boomtown Casino New Orleans announced a voluntary closure today at 2:15pm as a precautionary measure due to rising waters generated by Tropical Storm Lee.  The Casino will remain closed until weather conditions improve. All Harvey Canal Flood Wall gates have been closed.

The Jefferson Parish Emergency Operations Center remains staffed, 24/7, until this weather event is completely over.

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