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September 8, 2008 Damage Report
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Hurricane Updates

The Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe is organizing recovery and relief efforts in the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Community.  However, the news of Hurricane Ike may put a hold on the recovery efforts.  Tribal Chairman Charles Verdin says that we will monitor Ike's course and depending on its projected path and strength, clean up and recovery efforts may cease until after Hurricane Ike makes landfall in the United States. 


As of September 8, water is intermittent, but even when water is working there is not enough pressure to do anything productive.  According to Chairman Verdin, everyone should have electricity restored by October 1, but we are hoping that power is working before that time. 


On September 6, 2008, Joel Waltzer and other attorneys from the law firm of Waltzer & Associates went to Point-au-Chien to meet with Pointe-au-Chien and Isle a Jean Charles tribal leaders and community members. He provides the following report from that trip:


My partner Robert, associate Matt and I went to Pointe-au-Chien (on a map, spelled incorrectly Pointe Aux Chenes, mailing address Montegut) today to help assess and document damages and discuss needs.  The best way to get there, given the bridge problem, is highway 90, left on hwy 182 (first houma exit), left on highway 24 (24 crosses bayou at draw bridge, pay attention), straight onto highway 56, left on 655 to the end.  


The Community contains around one hundred homes.  Neighboring Isle a Jean Charles may have half that amount.  Things were accurately described as a disaster, a complete mess.  The roads were cleared and two-way traffic was possible.  There is no electricity, no running water, no sewerage and no land phone or cable lines.  Cell phone signal was a little intermittent, but mostly there.  Text and data also worked.  Lafourche  Parish reports natural gas working, and a sheriff told me some water pressure should be restored tomorrow.


Folks were just today returning to their homes.  Most rode the storm nearby, predominantly in Bourg.   They seemed to expect what met them and greeted this messed up situation relatively well.  A few though seemed outwardly despondent.   Thirteen (13) family representatives met us at 8:00 am.  We visited more homes.  All ages were represented.  Folks seemed to know where to get food, water and access medicine.


No homes were untouched.  All had some level of roof damage.  About half are elevated.  Maybe a shade more than half are trailers, most  of which are mounted and bolted or welded to structural supports.  Evidence suggests the strong possibility of tornadoes.  Many roof were completely or partially torn off.  With one or two exceptions, all roofs are made of tin or some other corrugated sheet metal.  Barely anyone had tarps.  There were only a couple of examples of fallen tree damage.  A couple or few dozen? are probably irreparable.  A few of the homes had possible structural damage.  I guesstimate about six feet of storm surge.  What is not covered with now dried marsh grass is covered with a thick layer of wet mud.  None of the homes were gutted, although Gary and Mandy Verdin had started.  It was a miserable reminder of post-Katrina New Orleans, with more roof damage.  Many freezers and refrigerators were emptied, but some that were not are starting to turn.


We brought and distributed about three thousand dollars of supplies at Price’s Shrimp factory on the LaFourche side of Highway 665 (Oak Pt. Rd.).  Included was a 5000 watt portable generator and appropriate extension cords, a chain saw, grill and large propane tank, about a dozen gloves, about three gallons of bleach, five push brooms, some rakes, some flat shovels, water and gas. 


Most had no insurance at all.  Those that did carry relatively small limits (30K was about the largest).  Most had no, or just did, apply for FEMA assistance.  We googled the number and gave it out.  Some already knew.  I saw no parish officials, or state or FEMA or Corps officials.


The Community is mostly inter-related and tend to share resources.  That being said, needs identified and observed (in an attempt at order of priority):


Short term:

1)      No rain (or more hurricanes!)

2)      Ice for food storage and a continued bottled water supply;

3)      Tarps to cover roofs while we wait for the Corps and its contractors to do bluroofs;

4)      Lots of gas cans, gas and oil for generators (quite a few had them);

5)      Cleaning supplies (lots of bleach, rags or towels, squeegies to push the wet mud out of homes and properties);

6)      Three to five pressure washers for Pointe-au-Chien and Isle a Jean Charles;

7)      A big bunch of young volunteers with strong backs equipped to assist with debris removal and separation;

8)      A volunteer with laptop and internet access (cell phone modem) to assist residents with FEMA registration and to collect and publish relief and recovery information;

9)      Dozens of box fans;

10)   A truck to spray for mosquitos (while the particular mosquito found was not a biter, called by the folks a “blind mosquito”, they were extremely dense and covered many homes that flooded, creating a possible health risk?);

11)   School supplies and child care supplies;

12)   Aerial volunteer to help find cattle if still alive;

13)   Some fire ant killer.


Mid term:

14)   Crews of roofers for sheet metal installation;

15)   Assess damage to fleet and to clear Bayou Pointe-au-Chien;


Long term:

16)   Elevation money;

17)   Folks to think about, engineer and advice on storm hardening structures;

18)   A campaign to get the oil companies to fill in the canals and for their interests to be included in coastal restoration and flood protection.


It seems that the government and other non-profits are already on the way to help with some of list.  Either Chairman Verdin or someone else should coordinate the relief off of a master list.


I picked up on the web and news today:


Distribution points for commodities at the Galliano Walmart on Hwy 3235,  8 to 6

Homeowners should call 888.766.3258 to sign up for blue roofs, which begins Monday:  they will be directly to a sign up center, must show photo ID or proof of residency and sign a right of entry form.  The structure must have, according to the news report, less then 50% structural damage to be eligible.

Boil order in effect for water:  drinking, showering, brushing teeth, etc.

911 works from cell phones only

Larose civic center will house folks with uninhabitable homes (I suppose while they clean up)

FEMA disaster relief number:  800.621.3362

FEMA Gustav hotline:  866.288.2428 has a lot of information

Terrebonne Parish Emergency Operations Center:  985.873.6357.

Lafourche Parish Emer Ops Center:  985.537.7603