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“It was just boat after boat after boat coming up the road,” Mr. Monsted said.

Mr. Monsted himself would join the armada, bringing his own boat from Venice Marina, near the state’s southernmost point, to a friend’s property. Though his business is in the heart of Plaquemines Parish, where he serves hungry hunters, fishers, oil and gas workers and military personnel, he was worried about the land to the south as Sally approached.

“It’s such a fragile area,” Mr. Monsted said. “If there was another hurricane like Katrina or even something smaller down there, there’s no more rebuilding. It’s just a waiting time bomb. It’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of when.”

In that region on Monday, Walter Heathcock grabbed a metal pole with marks painted at every foot and stuck it into water from the Gulf of Mexico that was lapping up in Boothville. Mr. Heathcock, a fishing guide, has made no plans to leave, but he does intend to know how much water Hurricane Sally might bring to his hometown. Within three hours, the water had already risen about eight inches, he said, but for now he was biding his time.

“We’re just catching a couple feeder bands here and there, so we’re riding around on a side-by-side, drinking beer with our guns,” Mr. Heathcock said, laughing and referring to his golf cart. “We’re survivors.” He added, “Hopefully we don’t run out of beer.”

Still, Mr. Heathcock acknowledged that his home was not the safest place to ride out a storm if things got worse, so he had an exit strategy if the tide did begin to turn.

“You got to go when the dark settles in,” Mr. Heathcock said. “This is how I do it: I have a four-wheeler in the back of a truck, and a mud boat or an airboat hooked to the back, so I’ll get to where I need to go.”

Reporting was contributed by Chelsea Brasted, Mike Ives, Rick Rojas and Will Wright.


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