Eerie Visions on Highway 23 After Hurricane Isaac

By Julie Dermansky

As the flood waters recede, cattle huddle on front porches and cats ride away in canoes.

Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, was hit hard by Hurricane Isaac, but it's on the road to recovery. On Labor Day, the first convoys of utility trucks were finally able to make their way down Highway 23, the only road that travels the length of the parish on the west bank. Large swaths of the road remained impassable, forcing the trucks to make frequent detours onto the Mississippi River levee. Residents who fled the west bank were also allowed to drive along the levee at designated times for a first look at the damage.

On the east bank, in Braithwaite and Scarsdale, flood water remains. Don Duplantier rode out the storm at his house until he was rescued by boat. He now says he was lulled into a false sense of security when Isaac was predicted to be a category 1 storm. In fact, Isaac hit Plaquemines Parish harder than Katrina did, lingering for hours and flooding streets and homes with a powerful storm surge. After his own rescue, Duplantier used a pirogue to return for his cats (he still can't convince one of them to come out of hiding) and pick up the clothes his family needs for his son's upcoming wedding.

On the west bank, cattle and horses scattered to find higher ground when Isaac flooded their pastures. Hundreds are dead; others are being rounded up and rescued. The National Guard is dropping hay for the surviving livestock while cajun cowboys rustle up the remaining cows along Highway 23. The recovery continues -- as does the hurricane season, which still has months to go.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/09/eerie-visions-on-highway-23-after-hurricane-isaac/262022/