National Guard Sandbags Levee, Protects Highway
By Louisianna National Guard Sgt. Michael L. Owens
American Forces Press Service
MYRTLE GROVE, La., Sept. 13, 2008 On the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America, soldiers and airmen of the Louisiana National Guard assisted Plaquemines Parish by sandbagging a levee that protects Highway 23, the main artery for entering and exiting Plaquemines Parish, as a precaution against Hurricane Ike’s storm surge.
Plaquemines Parish Land Superintendent Blair G. Rittiner and Louisiana Air National Guard Staff Sgts. Justin T. Barquet and Gene Monteilh, 159th Fighter Wing, place sandbags on a levee that protects Highway 23, which serves as the main road in Plaquemines Parish,Sept. 11, 2008. U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Michael L. Owens, 241st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The levee, which was overtopped and breached when Hurricane Gustav passed through the area, had suffered damaging erosion caused by heavy rainfall throughout the year.
“There are eight dips and low spots in the levee that were caused from erosion,” said Blair G. Rittiner, Plaquemines Parish land superintendent. “If these holes are not filled or repaired, it may cause the levee to breach again. Basically, we are putting band-aids on the levee.”
Although Louisiana is not expecting a direct hit from Hurricane Ike, Plaquemines Parish is expecting at least a four foot storm surge e as it passes through the Gulf of Mexico.
“The levees are about three feet high,” explained Spc. John M. Clement, G Company, 1-141st Field Artillery Battalion, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “We are putting lots of sandbags here that will eventually raise the height to about four feet.”
Plaquemines Parish dips deep into South Louisiana and has the most combined land and water area in the state. The parish suffered minor flooding after a portion of its levee breached as a result of rising water from Hurricane Gustav. Unlike the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, there were no reports of homes flooding in the parish due to Gustav.