The New Orleans Times-Picayune is reporting that the Plaquemines Parish levee has been overtopped, threatening the Braithwaite Park subdivision. Efforts are being made to protect the levee, but Parish President Billy Nungesser reports that:
"We don't think our efforts are going to be successful so we need to get everyone out now....'Other parishes are sending emergency personnel to Plaquemines Parish to assist in emergency efforts to protect life and property. The effected levee is reported to be a local, not federal levee.
The Caenarvon Mississippi River diversion in Plaquemines Parish will be opened to ease pressure on a levee that is being overtopped in Braithwaite, near the St. Bernard Parish line. The Corps of Engineers has approved running the diversion pumps in reverse to help drain the water and take pressure off the levee that runs along the Clearwater Canal.
Hurricane Gustav, downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane by the National Weather Service, made land in a rural area of Louisiana 70 miles southwest of New Orleans this morning, bringing rain and 100 mile per hour winds across a wide swath of the Louisiana Gulf Coast.
New Orleans levees appear to be holding, with water lapping over the top of some levees, particularly in the Industrial Canal area. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal advises residents that some areas may experience greater risk from the "back end" of the hurricane; residents are urged not to assume that all risk has passed.
New Orleans levees appear to be holding (though suffering some over-topping by wind-blown water.) Cities and towns across Gustav's route are suffering flooding, and substantial clean-up will be required. Lakeshore drive is reportedly under a foot of water, but that water is not spreading to other areas. From the Times-Picayune:
From the New York Times:
(Police Chief) Buell said up to 4 feet of water could inundate the lakefront by the time Gustav is finished, but he does not expect the flooding to affect side streets as it did during Katrina.Many houses on Lakeshore Drive were raised a full story following Katrina, so a flood of the magnitude Buell is predicting would not cause serious damage to those properties.
Workers on the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal — considered a particularly weak link in the city’s levee protection system — said that the water level in the canal was a little more than 10 feet above normal, or about three feet from the top of the floodwalls. There was some reported spillover at the west floodwall, though officials said the water level there was no longer rising.
Television images showed water splashing over floodwalls on the canal. Captain Marshall said that water was hitting a concrete “splash pad” that the corps put down to prevent erosion, and the water did not appear to be undermining the wall. “We’re getting our money’s worth out of that armoring,” he said.
Extensive coverage is available at the New Orleans Times-Picayune site.
Live television news, video and other reports continue to be available here.
Towns in the path of Gustav as he made land will suffer significant, possibly devastating damage. At least three critical care patients being transferred from New Orleans hospitals have died during their evacuation. The Crescent City will be flooded to some extent and need to be pumped out. But for now, it appears that area residents will be able to return to their home within a day or two, and that the worst fears regarding possible consequences of this storm have been avoided.
(Map from the National Weather Service Hurricane Center.)