Tuesday, Sep 4, 2012
A planned Incident Command System 300/400 training at Louisiana’s Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve and New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park turned into the real thing due to Hurricane Isaac. Instructor Jim King of the Southeast Regional Office cancelled the class when meteorologists predicted that the storm would hit New Orleans. Both parks closed at noon on Monday, August 27, and Superintendent Carol Clark activated the Incident Management system with Chief Ranger Georgia Shaw as Incident Commander. King and class participant Keith Rogers (Park Police) remained in New Orleans to assist with assessments after the storm.
All employees were accounted for via the EICC and post-storm assessments began on Thursday, August 30, as soon as storm conditions subsided to a safe level. Damage to most sites of the two parks was minimal and most park sites re-opened on Saturday, September 1. The exceptions were: • Perseverance Hall (New Orleans Jazz) – Final assessment is underway. • Old US Mint (New Orleans Jazz) – New Orleans Jazz performance space is housed in the Mint, part of the Louisiana State Museum system, which closed its buildings through the Labor Day weekend. The Mint reopened on Tuesday, September 4. • Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery (Jean Lafitte) – An NPS arborist crew arrived and completed assessments of downed trees on Sunday, September 2. They reported 37 damaged trees, some downed but most with damaged, broken, or hanging branches. A large sycamore tree fell on the front porch of the national cemetery superintendent’s lodge (used for site offices); this appeared to be the only structural impact at the site. The battlefield and cemetery are currently closed to the public. • Barataria Preserve (Jean Lafitte) – High water flooded the area, which is outside the New Orleans area levee system. Park staff canoed into the preserve via flooded roadways on Friday, August 31, but were able to drive in on Saturday, September 1, as water receded. Park staff also flew over the preserve on Saturday. They reported minimal damage to preserve buildings but trails and other areas will require on-the-ground assessments and inspections via boats. No major impacts to shorelines were seen and waterways appeared mainly clear of down trees. Park staff observed substantial leaf loss but low frequency of severe damage to the swamp forest canopy. Although water sampling is done regularly at the preserve, additional sampling is underway to measure possible saltwater intrusion, pollutants, and post-storm habitat conditions. Preserve staff reported on Tuesday, September 4, to begin additional assessment and clean up; after finishing with the battlefield and national cemetery work, the arborist crew will be assigned at the preserve. The area remains closed to the public.