JEAN LAFITTE, La. (WGNO) — Nearly 12 hours after Hurricane Ida made landfall in Southeast Louisiana, a small community located along Bayou Barataria is at risk of losing everything according to its mayor during a call-in interview with WGNO News late Sunday night.
Mayor Tim Kerner said the town of Jean Lafitte, which lies outside the Jefferson Parish levee protection system, needed only a few impactful words to describe the dire situation the town now finds itself.
“Total devastation,” Kerner told anchors Curt Sprang and Susan Roesgen. “Catastrophic.”
Kerner said the town levees were overtopped by rapidly rising water which has left up to 200 people stranded in Barataria after a barge took out the swing bridge to the island.
Late Sunday, rescue efforts were on hold due to strong winds inundating the area. Operations are expected to resume Monday morning.
“We have a small group trying to take out the people in the most imminent danger,” Kerner said. “This is a very dangerous situation. I’ve never seen so much water in my life. We’ve lost our school and everything, but now with people’s lives, it has turned into a total rescue mission.”
“People’s lives are I believe at stake now,” he continued. “We are trying to get them out as soon as fast as we can and as soon as this weather [breaks] we are going to send an army to them.”
For Kerner, a break in the weather cannot come soon enough as emergency personnel and volunteers are eagerly standing by to rescue those in need.
“If you are out there and are in immediate danger or know someone that is, call (504) 722-6808 [or] (504) 377-6217 and let them know your situation, get your address and they will get us to you.”
According to Kerner, the flood wall protecting Jean Lafitte was 7.5 feet high. However water has eclipsed that height and serves as the “final dagger” in the heart of the town.
“It really turned into a rescue mission, and we had to save what was left of the town where the kids go to school, where they get married here and where so many people live. But in the end, the water won out,” said Kerner.
“We’ve suffered bad flooding, but we’ve never seen water like this. It’s the worst storm in our history.”