2012 September 09, Sunday
Plaquemines Parish and Lafourche Parish, south and southeast of New Orleans, Louisiana
Hurricane Isaac may have taken our plane, but he didn't take our eyes. We rented a friend's "Fun Wifty-Two" (Cessna 152), a small two-seat high-wing airplane, and set out to take a look at the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac in some parts of coastal Louisiana. Since this little plane didn't have enormous fuel capacity (and she's pretty slow, too), we restricted ourselves to northern parts of Plaquemines Parish around the Mississippi River and the new levee boundaries, and then southward through Barataria Bay to Grand Isle and west to Port Fourchon in Lafourche Parish. Then we headed eastward and returned to New Orleans along the eastern coastal bays of Louisiana.
There is a stark contrast indeed between land conditions outside and inside the new levee boundary, and on opposite sides of the Mississippi River. Things look terrific inside the levee. Outside, however, many structures remain flooded, and there are signs of enormous wind damage. Lafourche Parish shows much damage as well. The beaches on the seaside of Grand Isle and especially farther westward to Port Fourchon look as black and dirty as they appeared in the summer of 2010. A few crews are out there working, but many fewer than in 2010, and there are no tents or boom scattered about.
The only wildlife we saw were a few small groups of frigate birds and pelicans. One of the most disturbing discoveries was that the island rookeries that were so full and beautiful in 2010 have for the most part been reduced to small clumps of dirty grass.
Along the coasts and in the bays east of the peninsula, we saw isolated patches of rainbow oil sheen. The marshes south of Lake Borgne show very dark edges. We are anxious to hear from experts just what that means, but it sure didn't look healthy. On our way home, there was a medium-sized marsh fire on the west side of the MRGO (Mississippi River Gulf Outlet), a few miles south of Lake Borgne.
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