Hurricane Isaac became a Louisiana event Wednesday, Aug. 29 exactly seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina killed hundreds of people in the New Orleans area and left the city in wreckage from which it has not yet fully recovered. We were misled at first into believing the storm would hug the Florida coast and head to the Atlantic coast.
After its redirection, Isaac hit the Louisiana coast near the mouth of the river and travelled northward toward St. Charles. But we were prepared because it was slow and by the time it got in our vicinity, we knew it was coming. And most folks in St. Charles either evacuated or stayed home with survival equipment that would maintain their wherewithall.
We had plenty of warning and many suggestions as to how to react to the oncoming blow. Fortunately, this was not another Katrina. It was much less ferocious. And levee systems in the area had been fine-tuned to withstand the blow much better.
But it was an extensive storm travelling along much of the Gulf of Mexico coast from the Florida panhandle to Texas. And it produced rain of as much as 20 inches deep in some areas.
The storm entered the state with wind speeds of some 80 miles per hour. This gave it a Category 1 hurricane rating.
It followed the river up to Baton Rouge, reducing its rating to a tropical storm with winds of 40 to 74 miles per hour.
From there it veered a little to the east as it continued its course northward. Fortunately, it left much less damage than some of our previous killer storms of the past such as Betsy and Katrina.
St. Charles was under mandatory evacuation because some of the parish still does not have fail-proof levee protection. Many residents, however, chose not to leave but did display a lot of knowledge in hurricane preparation from past storms.
Now that Isaac is gone, we can be relieved in the fact that St. Charles Parish had little damage other than downed trees and power lines and a lot of debris in our yards. It was a blessing for us but more severe for others.
Not far away, in neighboring LaPlace, damage from high water was significant. Several thousand homes were flooded in that area which often has been considered somewhat of a safe haven in past storms.
We were impressed with President Barack Obama’s speech in St. John Parish Monday. He gave pretty much the analysis that perhaps in preparing so much in the big city next door for future storms we overlooked the outlying areas where people also live. He promised that, in the future, they would consider the failures of the past and make sure it doesn’t happen again. We learn through experience.
The results from Hurricane Isaac were not nearly so grave as that from Katrina and other storms. Here in St. Charles, at least, our main failure was in the lack of power suffered by residents who were trying to return to a normal existence. Entergy should work on developing means of keeping power support structures in place so the lack of power after a storm will not last as long as it did after Isaac in some areas. Hopefully, that could be a major benefit we develop from our experience with this storm.
And we’re happy to see that our area should soon be back to normal so we can work towards a future that is better able to withstand the threat of hurricanes.