SE LA: Ike Storm Surge and Call for Help

(7pm — Robyn (bumped 10:45PM EST – Ike is getting scary) – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

While a lot of attention is being focused on Texas, SE Louisiana–particularly bayou communities–which are still recovering from Gustav are being affected by Ike already.  This is almost a repeat of Katrina-Rita, and again, they are being ignored.  Please see the bottom of this diary for ways to help.

Here’s the latest from the Houma Courier:

Rerun of Rita: Flooding inundates bayou communities

After Gustav brings winds, Ike brings flooding

HOUMA — The situation in Montegut, Pointe-aux-Chenes, Dulac and other bayou communities is beginning to look like Rita or worse, the local levee director said this morning.

“The water is very high in some areas much like Rita, and a height in some areas that we’ve never seen before,” said Windell Curole, interim regional levee director for Terrebonne and Lafourche.

Hurricane Rita, a seminal event for Terrebonne, flooded an estimated 10,000 homes and businesses in the parish’s bayou communities, pushing flood water as far north as east Houma. The hurricane caused massive damage despite never coming closer than 200 miles from Terrebonne, making landfall at the Louisiana-Texas border.

The storm and its effects awakened many locals to the fact that years of neglecting coastal erosion and failure to build any kind of hurricane-protection levee system — despite years of lobbying by local and state interests seeking federal money — have made Terrebonne vulnerable to serious flooding even from weaker storms as well as those that deliver only a glancing blow to the parish.

Today, hundreds of yards of levee in Chauvin and Pointe-aux-Chenes are being overtopped, and if it continues officials expect significant levee failures in those areas, Curole said.

Residents in these areas and Montegut are warned to get out.

Officials had not determined how many homes may have flooded so far, and some roads were already impassable, making estimates difficult or impossible to produce.

Levee breaches have already been reported in Montegut near the Bayou Terrebonne floodgate, but Curole said the breach is “not a total failure yet.” But if water continues to rise he expects multiple failures of the levee.

“There are problems up and down the bayou,” Curole said. “I would tell people if you had an event for Rita, you need to be ready to take action. This is working out to be a Rita-type event.”

Winds causing the flooding are expected to continue into the night. Curole said if the water goes down, they might have a chance to save some of the levees. But for now parish officials can only work to sandbag some individual locations that are not overtopping severely.

These areas took it on the chin in Gustav and, in many cases people had still not returned.  There’s still no electricity in much of this area and many basic services are just getting back to normal before Ike hit.  

According to the latest reports, there is already flooding in East Houma and the levees are failing around Terrbonne parish.

As I’ve discussed in previous diaries here, here, here and here, the Native American tribes are taking it on the chin again.  Brenda Dardar Robichaux, leader of the Houma Nation put out a new posting of their situation yesterday:

My mission for Wednesday was to have the bayou communities impacted by Hurricane Gustav served with outreach to begin meeting their needs. With a donation from Red Cross, we are finally able to begin delivering supplies. Supply trucks were unloaded, items sorted and loaded into vehicles with the assistance of hardworking friends and volunteers. These groups then headed to the hardest hit tribal communities. Volunteers conducting outreach were amazed that tribal citizens only took what they needed and would not accept anything more. They marveled at their strong sense of spirit even in these challenging times. This effort continued late into the night. I felt a sense of accomplishment that the outreach effort was going so well.

Thusday morning the tribal bus headed to Dulac to continue with our outreach efforts. A phone call brought the news that had been my worst fears. Because of the approach of Hurricane Ike, there is a mandatory evacuation for Lower Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes. The waters are rising rapidly and people are scrambling to bring their vehicles to higher ground. One highway is being blocked by a fallen power line. I am informed that some highways were already covered with water, even though Ike is miles away. My heart sinks. I called the bus driver and instruct him to turn around as Hurricane Ike is making his presence known. Some of the tribal citizens from these communities cannot afford to evacuate outside the parish again because all their resources were used to evacuate for Hurricane Gustav. They had not yet recovered from these unexpected expenses.

The anxiety begins again. As the winds blow, we know the waters are rising. We worry about the impact Hurricane Ike will have on our tribal community. I cannot believe this is happening again. Hurricane Gustav gave us wind damage. The path of Hurricane Ike has the potential to cause severe flooding.

In doing an assessment of all the bayous, it has become apparent that the settlements with the greatest number of Indian People are the communities that are least well protected and have suffered the most from hurricane damages both from this storm and from storms in the past.

Bayou Grand Cailou with the greatest density of Indian People in the state and bayou Pointe aux Chene, another largely Indian settlement, lack flood protection which is afforded to other communities. There are flood gates or barges that protect Bayou Terrebonne, Bayou Little Caillou and Bayou DuLarge from tidal surges. Why aren’t our Indian communities protected like these others?

As for the other tribes, there is no Ike update, but is the most recent from them:

The communities of lower Pointe-au-Chien, home of the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe (PACIT), and the Isle de Jean Charles (“The Island”) Band of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Confederation of Muskogees (BCCM) are still trying to assess the severe damage and what it will take to rebuild after Gustav’s devastating winds and storm-surge flooded homes, knocked buildings off their foundations, and decimated the primary source of income in the early season commercial shrimp harvest. The Island is still inaccessible due to prevailing flood waters.

To assist the Houma Nation:

Monetary donations may be sent to

United Houma Nation Relief Fund

20986 Hwy. 1

Golden Meadow, LA 70357

Your donations are tax deductible as the UHN has 501c3 status.

Supplies may be sent to

Old Store Relief Center

4400 LA Hwy 1

Raceland, LA 70394

Supplies needed to address our immediate recovery:

non perishable food

water

flashlight

batteries

gloves

boots

shovels

large garbage bags

cleaning supplies

fans

tarps

tree and debris removal equipment & supplies

personal hygiene items

ice chest

firstaid kits

gas gift cards

Wal-mart gift cards

generators

Elderly Needs:

Depends

Ensure

Baby Needs:

formula

diapers

baby wipes

To assist the Chitimacha and the other tribes:

PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW

Please assist these communities in their time of need! These communities, historically underserved and ignored, are asking for urgent donations of the following items:

+ Clean fresh water

+ Gas powered generators

+ Nonperishable and ready-made food items

+ Fans and window unit air conditioners

+ Gas powered pressure washers

+ Cleaning supplies including bleach, scrub brushes, towels, and rubber gloves

+ Tarps

+ Building supplies which can be donated via Home Depot and Lowes Gift Cards

+ Hygiene products, diapers, wipes, and baby formula

Donations can be sent directly to:

PACIT and IJC BCCM

c/o Chief Albert Naquin

100 Dennis Street

Montegut, LA 70377

8 comments

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    • Alma on September 12, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Just saw it at the orange place and was hoping you cross posted.

  1. again, of the struggles of the peoples of Louisiana, and, in particular, the plight of the Indian tribes, as forgotten as so many in Louisiana!  Heartbreaking to learn of yet more disparity of treatment among the sufferers of the elements of nature!

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