Montelongo urges more post-Isaac assistance for Dist. ESep 7th, 2012 | By Jessica Gonzalez | Category: News
After being walloped with 10 – 15 feet of storm surge and winds exceeding 120 mph, the region left outside of St. Bernard’s Hurricane Protection Levee— Delacroix, Shell Beach, Hopedale and Ycloskey— is battered and broken after Hurricane Isaac.
“District E experienced substantial damage from Hurricane Isaac last week, especially those living outside the Hurricane Protection Levee,” said District E Councilman Manuel “Monty” Montelongo during the September 4 council meeting. “Businesses, homes, boats and equipment were destroyed. I believe parish government did a good job in preparation for this hurricane, and continues to do a good job afterward, but improvements have to be made.”
Power lines are down throughout the area, and there is still a water boil advisory in effect.
Montelongo said that more needs to be done to get evacuees who moved their boats and equipment inside the protection area, back in. Although by early this week, the high flood waters in most areas had receded, debris and thick mud left many roads impassable.
The parish hired two contractors, United Recovery Group and O’Brien’s, to team up with the Road Department to clear parish-owned roads in and outside of the levee protection system.
However, most of the roads outside of the levee protection system are state highways and now must be cleared by the state, said Parish President Dave Peralta.
After storms like Gustav and Ike, the parish was able to go in and clear state highways. But with Isaac, the state made its own contracts with debris removal companies, Peralta said, which prohibits the parish from clearing the highways itself.
“It’s not that we don’t want to do it; almost every road outside of levee protection is a state highway, a few are parish-owned and I’ve directed contractors to send over trucks,” Peralta explained. “However, for the other roads, if the state is willing, we have contractors who can do it.”
In terms of more long-term assistance, Rykert Toledano, a part-time resident of Delacroix, urged the council to use Isaac as an opportunity to get the attention to state and federal officials. Toledano said that the need for flood protection for all is imperative, and rebuilding the barrier islands to weaken storm surge is crucial for the longevity of vulnerable areas like Delacroix.
“This is the fourth tragedy for this area in seven years,” Toledano said, naming Katrina, Gustav, BP and now Isaac. “With state and federal officials it’s about prioritizing, and it’s time to show that we are a priority—if it keeps going like this, areas outside of the floodwall will cease to exist.”