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Buses, boats sent to parish to evacuate flood victims

LAPLACE, La. — Louisiana officials sent scores of buses and dozens of high-water vehicles to help evacuate about 3,000 people from St. John the Baptist Parish after Hurricane Isaac pushed water from lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas into parts of LaPlace.

Rising water closed off all main thoroughfares into the parish, which is about 30 miles west of New Orleans. In many areas, water lapped up against houses and left cars stranded. The water was being driven higher by south winds as Isaac passed to the west.

Floodwaters rose waist-high in some neighborhoods, and the Louisiana National Guard was working with sheriff's deputies to rescue people stranded in their homes and surprised by the flooding.

The floodwaters "were shockingly fast-rising, from what I understand from talking to people. It caught everybody by surprise," Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne said.

By 8 p.m., about 1,500 people had been evacuated, and Gov. Bobby Jindal's office said up to another 1,500 were expected to leave their homes.

Dardenne said officials speculated that the fortifying of levees in other parishes along Lake Pontchartrain after Hurricane Katrina forced storm surge into new areas that had escaped flooding in past storms.

"The water's got to go somewhere, and this is where it went," he said.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries had 30 boats in LaPlace and 20 more on the way to get people out of their homes, and the state sent 89 buses to take them to shelters in Alexandria and Shreveport, and to evacuate an assisted living facility. The National Guard had seven high-water vehicles in the parish and an additional 25 — as well as 10 boats — on the way Wednesday night to assist the parish evacuation efforts.

With one water district flooded, the National Guard also was sending two 5,000-gallon water tankers and 35,000 bottles of water to distribute to residents. State officials were sending 200 one-ton sandbags to protect the water system from floodwater contamination.

Buses, boats sent to parish to evacuate flood victims 08/29/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 10:52pm]
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