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Rescues in low-lying areas after Isaac storm surge

Associated Press Modified: August 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm •  Published: August 30, 2012
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CROWN POINT, La. (AP) — Isaac, downgraded to a depression Thursday, staggered toward north Louisiana, its weakening winds still potent enough to drive storm surge into portions of the coast and the River Parishes between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

As the water pushed its way into the nooks and crannies of several low-lying areas, military trucks and boats were deployed Thursday to help rescue families stranded in lower Jefferson Parish by floodwaters expected to reach upward of nine feet.

Large trucks from the sheriff's office rolled slowly up a flooded highway periodically to deposit evacuees rescued from flooded homes in the nearby Town of Lafitte.

Karen Weaver clutched one of her family's three small dogs as deputies helped her down from the bed of one truck.

"They came in a little airboat," Weaver said when asked how she was rescued. She said her house flooded Wednesday afternoon and she took refuge with her husband, 10-year-old grandson, and brother-in-law until authorities came to get her at the behest of her daughter, who lives in Chalmette.

Lafitte and other areas close to the coast began flooding as Isaac moved north and southerly winds pushed waters up bayous and waterways into low-lying areas. St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister said emergency responders had completed 350 rescues throughout the parish, using boats and high-water vehicles, after Bayou Bonfouca and Bayou Patassat overflowed Wednesday swamping parts of the City of Slidell.

Jefferson Parish Council President Chris Roberts estimated 100 people had been rescued from parts of Jefferson as of Thursday afternoon. He wasn't sure how many others were left but said, "We're going to continue to be here during the entire event."

Water covered three of the four roads that meet at the intersections of Lafitte and Barataria Boulevards, where a command post was set up. Standing near the array of police cars and rescue trucks were Paul and Tory Whipple, who was carrying a small, white bird swaddled in a dish towel. Paul Whipple said he found the bird, which he believed to be a small crane, with a broken leg near his house in the woods near Lafitte.

Col. John Fortunato, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, said parts of Lafitte are only accessible by boat.

"We had to bring a lot of assets to get everything in position down here in preparation for the day, but as it stands at this point, the water is generally not this close up to the roadway," Fortunato said.

Lafitte, Barataria and Crown Point are more prone to flooding because they are outside the hurricane protection levee, but flooding is still worse than he's ever seen it, he said.

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