DES ALLEMANDS, LOS ANGELES (Associated Press) – Flooded by Hurricane Katrina, Roy Comardell didn’t allow another hurricane to hit him. He built a dam around his entire plot of land to protect his home, commercial fishing boats, cars, and motorbikes.
Comardell believed he was victorious over Hurricane Ida until Category 4 winds slammed into his home and sent water seeping into the grass walls of his handcrafted dam, which includes a pump and a homemade flood gate for the driveway.
On Tuesday, he cleaned up a muddy mess left over from more than a foot of water that had inundated his home. While working, Comardelle couldn’t help but wonder when he could get back to the water to make a living catching crabs.
“I had a losing battle. I thought I got it. When the eye came, that’s when I topped the dam,” said Comardell. “I can’t fight nature.”
Located about 35 miles (56 kilometers) southwest of New Orleans, in the unincorporated Des Allemands, Cormadelle’s home has been a fishing community since German immigrants first settled in the 1820s. Residents have been trying to keep their homes dry for generations, and fighting has become tougher in recent decades as the Louisiana coast has shrunk.
After Hurricane Katrina hit 16 years before Ida made landfall, Comardell climbed atop a dirt-moving machine and built a berm surrounding the property, roughly the size of a large suburban plot. A slim man with a thick accent, his torso bears the tan streaks of a tank top that he often wears while working outside.
Comardell planted grass on the slopes of his embankment, and fitted a metal gate which he reinforced with sandbags to prevent water from entering through the driveway. For most storms, it keeps the house dry.
He said that while two previous hurricanes had bypassed the dam, all was going well until Ain Ida reached L’Force Parish. As soon as this happened, the water started flowing over a few low points. Soon his house was filled with about 18 inches (46 cm) of water; The workshop where his motorcycle was parked took 22 inches (56 cm).
From the air, Comardelle’s property looks like a green oasis surrounded by a sea of mud. On land, he quietly began to contemplate the possibility of having to use the savings to support his wife and his wife until he could locate all his hunting gear and the conditions would once again be suitable for catching crabs.
“For Katrina and all that, it took us over two months to go out there to see what we have left,” said Kumardel.