Venetian Isles digging out with eye on future storm protection


Posted on September 6, 2012 at 3:58 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 6 at 4:01 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- The community of Venetian Isles in eastern New Orleans is digging out and rebuilding after storm surge from Hurricane Isaac pushed water and mud through homes and businesses.

The nearly 400 families that live in waterfront subdivision near Chef Pass know the drill all too well.

Up and down neighborhood streets people are removing their water-logged belongings and gutting their homes.

"This is the living room. This was cherry wood floors. It's not so much now," said Jules Bentley pointing to the storm damage.

This is the third time he's rebuilt his father-in-law's rental property in Venetian Isles.

"When you have fish skeletons floating out when you raise the garage door, it's bad," said Bentley.

City garbage contractors made their normal rounds Thursday morning.

The Louisiana National Guard is also on the streets, scraping up what the locals call "Bayou Sludge," a thick black mud that came in with Isaac's flood waters.

"In some parts of our neighborhood we had 8 feet of water," said Robby Knecht, president of the Venetian Isles Civic Association. "The winds exceeded 100 miles per hour. Not having power for days. It was really rough especially when you have a family."

Folks in Venetian Isles are now joining the chorus of others who live outside the levee protection who claim there may have been unintended consequences associated with the more than $14 billion spent on the new flood control system in Greater New Orleans. They say that might have resulted in more severe damage during Isaac.

"Now with the MRGO closed to protect the Ninth Ward and St. Bernard, we're getting some of the counter clockwise water coming back this way," said Knecht.

"We're catching the extra water that would normally go somewhere else because of the locks and the levees," said Emory Dupuis whose lived in Venetian Isles for the past 35 years.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is now pushing for a new floodgates at the Rigolets and Chef Pass. Venetian Isles neighbors hope they can be built before the next big storm here.

"Obviously, the water has to go somewhere," said Knecht. "You can't protect some areas and not others."

The so called Lake Pontchartrain Barrier is also included in Louisiana's Coastal Master Plan.