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'It was a Katrina for some,' says Louisiana senator, as displaced residents question preparedness

 

Although the newly installed levee system in Louisiana is being heralded a success after its first major test last week in the form of Hurricane Isaac, low-lying areas outside the levees suffered serious damage from flooding.

"This was not a (Hurricane) Katrina for everyone," Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said while visiting an evacuation center in Alexandria, La. "But it was a Katrina for some."

SUMMARY

  • Some residents question why there was no mandatory evacuation in their parishes
  • More than 2,800 people were still at shelters in Louisiana
  • It is uncertain how many will require longer-term temporary houses 
  • Besides power outages, many southern states are dealing with the smell of dead rodents washing up on shore

Landrieu was interrupted by shouts and complaints from those displaced who questioned why there was never a mandatory evacuation from their parish before the storm made landfall.

"I have an 18-month-old daughter and we put her on the top bunk of my son's bunk beds while we got things together," Kelvin Fallen, who lives in St. John the Baptist Parish, told The Town Talk. "I had to make something to carry her in because I was afraid if we carried her in our arms, we might slip."

"I know Louisiana's a gambling state, but we don't want to gamble in this method because when you lose this way, you lose a lot."

- Ed Powell, a LaPlace resident

Fallen told the paper that he made a makeshift raft for his wife and three children and walked nearly a mile to a shelter.

"We walked in the nasty water," he told the paper. "We lost everything, but I’m trying to be positive."

"Nasty" water may not be an overstatement.

Crews have been pitch-forking dead nutria -- large semiaquatic rodents-- into front-end loaders on area beaches.

Officials with the Hancock County Emergency Management Agency say some streets with access to the beach have been closed while workers in hazardous materials suits try and pick up the carcasses.

Hancock County EMA officials estimate more than 15,000 nutria killed by Isaac's storm surge have washed up on the beach.

"We don't want anybody out here in the stuff," said Hancock County Supervisor David Yarborough. "They're actually starting to swell up and bust. It smells really bad. So, any sightseers, you might want to second guess this one before you come out."

Many residents are dealing with more than just a putrid smell.

Tens of thousands of customers remained in the dark Monday in Louisiana and Mississippi. Most of those were in Louisiana, where utilities reported more than 100,000 people without power.

In St. John the Baptist Parish, residents spent Labor Day dragging waterlogged carpet and furniture to the curb and using bleach and water to clean in an attempt to prevent mold.

LaPlace resident Barbara Melton swept mud and debris from her home, which was, at one point, under 2 feet of water. The garbage, debris and standing water -- combined with heat reaching the 90s -- created a terrible stench.

"It's hot, it stinks, but I'm trying to get all this mud and stuff out of my house," she said.

A few houses away, Ed Powell said Isaac was enough to make him question whether to stay.

"I know Louisiana's a gambling state, but we don't want to gamble in this method because when you lose this way, you lose a lot."

More than 2,800 people were at shelters in Louisiana, down from around 4,000. State officials were uncertain how many people would eventually need longer-term temporary housing. Kevin Davis, head of the state's emergency office, said housing would likely include hotels at first, then rental homes as close as possible to their damaged property.

Click for more from The Town Talk

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