Mandatory evacuation remains for Calcasieu
The Category 2 Hurricane Delta slammed into Southwest Louisiana Friday, producing wind gusts of up to 88 miles per hour, and upwards of 15 inches of rain in parts of Calcasieu Parish, officials said at a briefing Saturday. While it lacked Hurricane Laura’s Category 4 strength and destruction just six weeks earlier, Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso said riding out Delta “was not pleasant.”
“It was not a sissy storm,” he said. “Those winds and that rain pounded us for hours, and it was significant.”
Calcasieu Parish remains under a mandatory evacuation. Parish Administrator Bryan Beam said officials will announce when the evacuation is lifted. Mancuso said there were no fatalities reported from Delta as of Saturday.
Rainfall amounts from Delta varied from 17 to 20 inches on the east side of the parish and 6 to 8 inches in the Vinton/Starks area, Mancuso said. Post-hurricane conditions remain dangerous, especially in areas that experienced flooding, with debris left behind by Laura and Delta and potential downed live wires.
“I’m not going to exactly say it’s safe,” he said.
Paul DeStout, operations manager for the Calcasieu Office of Emergency Preparedness, said more than 90 welfare checks were conducted as of Saturday.
All intersections should be treated as four-way stops if traffic lights are not working, DeStout said. Residents should use caution when driving down flooded streets.
“If you can’t see the yellow (center) line, it’s too deep,” he said. “Turn around and find an alternate way.”
DeStout and several officials stressed safety when using generators. They should only be placed in a well-ventilated area outdoors. Residents can call the Red Cross or their local fire department to get a carbon monoxide detector.
Residents should be careful when moving debris, wearing gloves and watching out for any snakes or rodents, DeStout said.
Allen Wainwright, Calcasieu Public Works director, said debris pick up is expected to resume Monday. So far, more than 4 million cubic yards of debris have been picked up parishwide, including municipalities.
Low power lines may cause problems for daily trash collection, Wainwright said. Trash collection routes are expected to resume Monday.
Margaret Harris, customer service representative with Entergy Louisiana, said 315,000 customers were without power immediately after Hurricane Delta. Crews are working to assess damage, including transformers, distribution lines and the transmission system.
Harris said she is hopeful for a quicker restoration of power because of fewer downed structures from Delta, compared to Laura.
“We expect it to be a restoration instead of a rebuild,” she said. “We are making progress.”
Some areas may have power restored before damage assessments are complete, Harris said.
DeStout said 39 out of the 69 water systems that feed Calcasieu Parish are not operating, impacting 27,000 residents. Most are from District 9, which includes the Carlyss area.
Nine boil advisories are in place, including Lake Charles, Iowa and Vinton, along with smaller water systems. For more, visit the Louisiana Department of Health website, ldh.la.gov.
Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, Christus Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital and West Cal-Cam Hospital are fully operational.
The parish plans to open six points of distribution sites. They include the Lake Charles Civic Center, Washington-Marion High School, 2802 Pineview St.; Memorial Park Plaza, 3009 Gerstner Memorial Drive; Old Tyme Variety and Crafts, 810 Ruth St., Sulphur; KC Hall, 503 U.S. 90, Iowa; and DeQuincy Railroad Museum, 400 Lake Charles Ave.
Residents needing to evacuate can go to Burton Coliseum and be bused to the mega shelter in Alexandria, DeStout said. Some may be sent to alternate shelters. Residents who can’t leave on their own should call 911 to arrange a pick up time.
Jerry Stolar with FEMA asked residents to take photos and document any new damage to their homes caused by Hurricane Delta. He said residents should keep all receipts for items, such as cleaning supplies, and should call their insurance adjuster to start the claims process.
Stolar said FEMA will provide more information once local and state officials wrap up damage assessments from Delta.
Stolar encouraged residents to visit the state GOHSEP website to answer questions about the type of damage sustained during Hurricane Delta. For more, visit arcg.is/14nOjf.
Boat traffic, except for commercial vessels and law enforcement boats, is restricted along the Calcasieu River and English Bayou, north of the Saltwater Barrier to the Calcasieu Parish line and the west fork of the Calcasieu River, Beam said.
Andrew McClain with the Red Cross said up to 1,000 residents sought shelter in eastern Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Meanwhile, more than 8,300 residents who evacuated from Hurricane Laura are being supported by the Red Cross at hotels in Texas and Louisiana.
McClain said 800 workers are assisting in recovery from both hurricanes. Volunteers are assisting emergency shelters by providings cots, blankets and MRE’s.
Paul Hesse, town of Iowa mayor, said Delta was devastating, producing 17 inches of rainfall in just a few hours. He said flooding occurred in most areas.
“These are places that have not flooded since 1980,” he said. “It’s not necessarily a lot of inches, but 1 to 2 inches in a house pretty much ruins a floor.”
Delta caused minor wind damage, with few poles downed, Hesse said. He said the town’s water system was expected to be restored Saturday evening. The sewer system was slowly coming back online.
Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said Delta caused more flooding than Hurricane Laura. He called on various organizations to aid in helping the city’s residents recover from both hurricanes.
Hunter called on “a proper federal response” to the storms, including a full reimbursement from FEMA for the governmental costs incurred during recovery.
“We absolutely need that,” he said. “If local government has to bear the brunt of 10 or 25 percent of the cost of these two disasters, it will be absolutely debilitating.”
Hunter also called on a “robust housing plan for locals,” saying residents impacted by Delta should get the same treatment as those whose homes were damaged by Laura.
“We need to get our friends and our family members out of hotels rooms and out of shelters as soon as possible and as soon as it is safe for those units to be installed here in Calcasieu Parish,” he said.
City Hall will be closed Monday, Hunter said. Garbage collection will resume Monday. Residents needing perishable goods picked up by the city can call 491-1220.
Sulphur Mayor Mike Danahay said the city’s two water plants did not lose power during Delta’s landfall. He said the city’s wastewater system is also fully operational. Danahay said little debris was disturbed by the storm, and Delta did not cause any power lines or poles to fall.
The major downside from Delta, Danahay said, was flooding. Garbage collection will resume Monday.
Waste Management will resume its regular garbage collection routes Monday. Police Jury offices will be closed Monday.
The next public briefing is set for 4 p.m. Oct. 12,