Scenes From Hurricane Isaac

31 Aug


Unfortunately Isaac hit quite a bit harder than expected. As predicted Metro New Orleans seems to have few problems beyond more extensive and longer-lasting power outages than expected (72% of the city is still without power) but in many less-protected areas of SE Louisiana flooding was heavy, in places worse than Katrina. Although Isaac was not a particularly strong storm it was large and, even worse, it slowed significantly when it made landfall and spent an unexpectedly long time in SE Louisiana, all the while dumping rain and pushing massive amounts of water inland. The result was extensive flooding South of New Orleans and on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain. As of now five deaths have been reported in Louisiana and Mississippi, the last two in hard-hit Braithwaite, LA. It is expected that number will rise, but we all hope not by much. Here’s what I saw.

Before the storm:


We took my boat to the Northshore late Sunday night. Here we’re coming into Mandeville with the sunrise

And into Bayou Castile in Mandeville, LA

Many boats are already hunkered down, we were one of the last to come in

Here we are moored up and ready for the storm surge. In a short few hours these docks will be submerged!

Looking out over Lake Pontchartrain on the way back Monday noonish. Still calm and quite beautiful…

But waves are gathering on the shore

In the thick of it:

My backyard on Tuesday night as the hurricane made landfall in Southern LA
Wednesday morning around 11 we went out for a walk in the storm. It was blowing hard enough for raindrops to sting but winds didn’t seem as strong as predicted. Everything that could be was blowing around but we picked a very careful path around trees and wobbly power poles towards the river.
The Mississippi river was actually flowing upriver with the force of the wind and storm surge
It’s difficult to take good photos through a ziplock bag, but you get the idea

The twinspan bridges in the background of the Mississip
 The Great Mississippi
My neighborhood. It’s difficult to tell but winds seemed to be 40-60mph at this point with heavy rain

The aftermath:

By Thursday morning the wind had died down to occasional gusts and rain was sporadic so I went out for a look around. My destination was the lakefront and the marina where my boat would have been.

There were plenty of downed trees. Most fell away from houses and onto the road

Not all were so lucky
Things got worse as I got closer to the lake and I had to pick a path up hills and over train tracks to get through

The lake itself was flooded a good 4-6 feet above normal and quite a bit of the lakefront was under a few feet of water.

Docks at the municipal boat launch were completely submerged


The Lakefront Aiport was flooded with all the runways underwater and a couple feet in the buildings

The airport terminal

When I found my way to the marina blocked by heavy flooding I started to really get worried about my friend’s boats that stayed put

I found a way through and discovered the marina was not as heavily flooded as the airport

The docks were under 1-2 feet off water

Fortunately, most of the boats were sitting pretty high above their finger piers

The lovely Margaret weathered the storm without a scratch.

But the marina is largely unprotected and was hit hard. Not everyone was so lucky, or so well-prepared.

Unless snapped lines are replaced and adjusted in time this boat will be in trouble when the water level falls back to normal.

I hope this isn’t what it looks like…

The smallest boats on the outside of the piers were hit the hardest. Three, including this one, were sunk in their slips

Being some of the only people at the marina we took it upon ourselves to board the boats which were still in serious danger and adjust their lines. This one had lost a bowline and was firmly grounded on top of its finger pier!

Thursday afternoon when they re-opened the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway we drove across to see if my boat survived. At this point the only thing I knew was that Bayou Castile where I was tied up had more water than Katrina. I was quaking in my (soaked) boots.

Lake Pontchartrain on Thursday afternoon after the storm. Already nearly calm.
My first view of where my boat was moored. Something is very, very wrong here…

Though I was elated that my boat (on the right) made it without a scratch it was a tragic sight that greeted us

Twenty-four hours before this was a beautiful old boat which for all intents and purposes appeared to be in fine shape. Apparently it was just out of the yard five months ago and someone from the yard was checking the lines the day I came in.

I’ll just barely be able to squeeze out unharmed

 And that was the storm. Now we’ve all got lots of work to do cleaning up debris and downed branches and keeping sane in predicted 100+ degree heat while we wait for the power to come back on. I’ll be bringing my boat back to the city tomorrow or Sunday and getting ready to move onto it in the next week or two.

To all of you in the Gulf area I hope you made it through the storm ok, and that all your homes, boats, and boat-homes fared as well as mine.

Out for now.


See my Index of DIY and How-to Posts

This article was syndicated from Safe At Harbour But Meant For The Sea: DIY Sailing with Paul Calder


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