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Wednesday, August 20, 2014
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Editorial: Quiet hurricane season comes to an end

Last Modified: Friday, November 30, 2012 6:19 PM

The 2012 hurricane season came to a quiet end yesterday.

For residents of southeastern Louisiana and the Northeast, it will be long remembered, thanks to Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy.

Both storms left a lethal legacy: even Category 1 hurricanes, the lowest on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, can be destructive and deal widespread misery. And they are also reminders that while many focus on the damage that a hurricane’s winds create, the tidal surge that’s generated by those winds can be equally as harmful, if not more.

Isaac made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River on August 28. Its storm surge, copious rainfall and pedestrian pace combined to inundate small communities hard by the river’s protective levees. Few outside of the region had ever heard of Braithwaite and Carlisle until the storm surge topped the levees, producing the all-too-familiar scenes of floodwaters reaching rooftops and people and pets being rescued by heroes in boats and National Guard trucks.

Several miles north, residents living along the northern rim of Lake Ponchartrain in Slidell and Madisonville suffered similar fates as did home and business owners along the southwest shore in LaPlace. Farther to the north, the town of Kentwood had to be evacuated when torrential rains threatened the integrity of a dam.

The damage estimates included nearly 60,000 homes across 21 parishes in the state, totaling more than $600 million.

Two months later, Hurricane Sandy sideswiped the Carolinas before making landfall in New Jersey, giving residents of the Northeast a bitter taste of what their brethren along the Gulf Coast have endured for decades.

People living along the coast, rivers and tributaries saw their residences and businesses inundated with several feet of water.

The monster storm produced a large snowstorm in upper Appalachia and was felt as far away as the Great Lakes region.

It killed as many as 131 people in the United States and cost estimates are running as high as $63 billion.

We could all relate to the pain of the East Coast residents who had never experienced a hurricane’s wrath.

Here in Southwest Louisiana, we should be thankful that we were spared such loss of life and property. But we should be mindful of those in our state and nation who were less fortunate and the lessons that Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy provided.

• • •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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