September 15, 2008
AOPA ePublishing staff
Photos: Kirt Chouest
Located southwest of New Orleans and about 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, Houma, La., suffered blows from hurricanes Gustav and Ike less than two weeks apart.
“Two hurricanes back to back is a bit much for anybody to bear,” wrote AOPA member Jerry Gonsoulin on Sept. 14, just two days after Hurricane Ike blew through. “We had the eye of Gustav with about 110- to 120-mph winds and very little flooding. But with Ike we had 50- to 60-mph winds for a longer period of time and have had terrible flooding.”
The city’s airport, Houma-Terrebonne, is serving as a staging ground for general aviation relief operations now that the floodwaters that covered Runway 12/30 and the south end of Runway 36 have receded. The tower, which had been operating part-time with a generator, is functioning normally again.
Gonsoulin reports that several hangars received minimal damage from flooding, but only a few T-hangars on the field were destroyed.
Gonsoulin has been using his Robinson R44 to help families survey the damage to their homes. He said helicopters have also ferried workers to oilfield equipment that is inaccessible by ground vehicles. Seaplanes and helicopters have also provided transportation for the local media to cover the damage.
The Air National Guard is using Chinooks to haul sandbags to fix some levee breaks before the floodwater in the town can be pumped out.
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