Hurricane Isaac knocked out power to Port Sulphur, Buras, Venice; otherwise damage is minimal.
Capt. Brent Roy has lived through many hurricanes, returning to the Venice area after each storm because of the incredible fishing the region provides. So when Hurricane Isaac brushed the mouth of the Mississippi River, the veteran fishing guide couldn’t wait to find out how his lodges and the marinas fared.
So Friday, the owner of Venice Fishing Charters jumped aboard a seaplane and headed downriver, shooting video of flooded Highway 23 and getting a birds-eye view of his cabins before putting down at Venice Marina.
“From the air it really didn’t look that bad,” said Roy, also known as Downriver Guide on the forum. “There’s a lot of skirting blown around — just normal wind damage.”
The only water he saw was where Highway 23 was flooded in the Myrtle Grove area (see video).
“The flooding started about where Lake Hermitage and Myrtle Grove Estates are, and continued down to about West Pointe a la Hache, maybe that little community called Diamond,” Roy said.
Otherwise, there was no flooding observed.
“From (West Pointe a la Hache) down it’s fine,” Roy said. “Port Sulphur is good; Buras is good; Venice is good.”
He said levee improvements following Hurricane Katrina really paid off.
“You could see the water line on the levees; it got high on both the (the east and west) levees,” Roy said. “Those levees held; if it hadn’t, it would have been a mess. I saw one big ship that broke lose and blew up on the rocks at Pointe a la Hache.”
He said his cabins near Lighthouse Lodge in Venice (which looked untouched) lost a few shingles, but otherwise escaped without much effect.
“Everything inside the levee looked good,” Roy said.
And Venice Marina looked to be in good shape, he said.
“We pulled (the seaplane) right up to the finger pier where the shrimp boats tie up,” Roy said. “There were a few boards missing, but we walked right down the pier.
“At the fuel dock, there were some more boards missing, but that was it.”
He said the elevated marina store was in good shape; most of the damage they saw seemed to be related to the storm surge that he said appeared to have been 3 to 4 feet.
“I saw a couple of houseboats sunk; I saw one boat — a 50-foot Hatteras — that had come loose and was up on the bank. But I didn’t see very many boats that had come lose or were sunk.”
That didn’t mean the marina escaped untouched, however.
“The cabins on the ground — I’d say nine out of 10 were washed away,” Roy said. “Anything that was left on the ground was damaged. If you left your boat down there on a trailer you might or might not find it.”
Roy spoke with harbormaster Paul, who rode out the storm in the Sportsmans Lodge and said there were only two obstacles to getting back in business.
“Paul said whenever they get power and the roads are back open, they can get back to business,” Roy said.
The time frame is a bit uncertain.
“My best guess is about two weeks on the road, maybe 10 days,” Roy said. “I’m pretty sure this time next week you’ll be able to drive down to Venice. There’s a lot of debris on the road.”
It will probably be a bit longer before electricity is restored to the area.
“I don’t see anyway they’ll have power back in two weeks,” he said. “The saving grace is they had that high-dollar project to build that high line at Myrtle Grove, and that powers everything down there.
“I would probably say closer to October before we can start fishing again and the marinas are open.”
In terms of habitat, Roy said there appeared to be some definite impacts.
“All of the damage to the marsh from Hurricane Katrina, (Isaac) exaggerated all of that,” Roy said. “Down at Dennis, Loomis and all the passes in Pass a Loutre WMA, it’s going to make that coastal erosion problem worse.
“A lot of the (rosseau) canes were flattened, even up by the marina. Wherever there was a cane patch, it was just flattened: It looked like crop circles.”
However, he said there were some positives from the storm surge.
“it cleaned out all of the nonnative (vegetative) species down there,” Roy said. “the water hyacinths are gone; there’s not a lily in Venice.”
While bass anglers might lament that, Roy said the lilies had really taken over in areas.
“Some of the areas I was bass fishing in Venice, you couldn’t get into some of the canals because there were so many lilies,” he said.
All in all, however, the marshes in Venice looked better than those in Delacroix, which Roy checked out on the way back upriver.
“I think Venice did very well,” he said “It looked like Delacroix took a beating.”
On the way back upriver, Roy was flown over Braithewaite that was flooded when a levee was overtopped. He said the water was still very high.
“They still had houses where just the roofs were sticking out of the water,” Roy said. “It was a mess. I don’t know who those people will come back. It was as bad as the flooding in Venice during Katrina.”
Read other updates and post your own observations, photos and vids on the Official Hurricane Isaac forum thread.
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