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Briefing held on Hurricane Laura recovery in Calcasieu

tony mancuso.JPG
Posted at 12:08 PM, Aug 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-29 22:43:47-04

LAKE CHARLES, La. - The Calcasieu Parish Executive Policy Group (Police Jury President, mayors of the six Calcasieu municipalities, and the sheriff) updated the media and the public on Hurricane Laura recovery in Southwest Louisiana during a press conference Saturday.

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso asked the community to strictly adhere to a curfew, which is 7pm to 6am.

"I saw a lot of vehicles, other than emergency vehicles, driving around last night," Sheriff Mancuso said. "So, you know, you're gonna get stopped you're gonna get questioned. Unless you're an emergency vehicle. Let's try to do a little better, it's for your safety."

Hurricane Laura impacted hundreds of high voltage transmission lines. Power must be restored to those lines and substations in order to energize distribution lines that serve businesses and homes.

At this time, there is no running water, electricity or fuel available in Calcasieu Parish. The Mayor said water and electricity is going to take a while to restore.

"If you come here, you need to be prepared to stay here and be self sufficient," Mancuso said. "You got to take care of yourself, you got to have water and food and gasoline to get out of here if you need to go get out of here."

"We want you here you're going to help rebuild this community," stated the Sherff. "We all together are going to help rebuild this community. But we have some really serious challenges to overcome in the next several weeks."

There are five sheriffs and along with deputies from Jefferson, Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Plaquemines and Lafayette parishes helping out the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office.

The State Fire Marshal's Office along with the Sheriff's Office are going door to door to make sure people aren't in need of help.

"This is not going to be fixed next week, or the following week, or the following week," Mancuso said. "This is a long term problematic issue that we're going to have to deal with as a community."

The debris clean up is currently in "Push Phase" to clear all the road ways. There are currently 100 crews clearing the routes through out the parish. The next phase they will turn their attention to debris pickup. Vegetation pickup will start first and citizens need to begin thinking about stacking and sorting their debris accordingly. Officials ask residents to acknowledge water system meters when stacking debris.

Residents who are experiencing water outages are being urged to turn off the water at the roadside water valves if they are able to to safely do so, this assists providers to begin delivering services sooner while reducing issues like leaks and broken pipes that would cause a shutdown of the water system.

President Donald Trump on Friday approved Gov. Edwards’ request for a Major Disaster Declaration, granting Individual Assistance for people who were affected in Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron and Jefferson Davis parishes. Click here to learn more.

The school system had two companies make assessments on the damage of all the schools. "We had about 3% of our 70 buildings that had no damage or virtually no damage," said Calcasieu Parish Schools Superintendant Karl Bruchhaus. "One company assesses the damage on percentage, another one does it on a one through five scale, five making the worst off. There are a lot of 100% and fives, I'll just tell you that. So we're very concerned."

"The companies are working now to dry the facilities. So temporary roofing will be placed where that's applicable; keeping the moisture low so we don't get mold and mildew in the schools that we have seen in the past for other issues," Bruchhaus stated.

Watch the whole press conference below.

There will be a press conference Sunday at 4 pm with the latest information.

BELOW ARE IMPORTANT POINTS FROM CALCASIEU PARISH:

The National Guard will be distributing food, water, ice and tarps to residents at 8 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 30 at the Lake Charles Civic Center. One tarp per vehicle. The National Guard is working with the parish to make these commodities available in the more rural parts of the parish. More information is to come.

  • The Red Cross has disaster supply and food sites at McMurry Park, 300 S Hazel St, Sulphur, and the Lake Charles Civic Center. Both will open at noon Sunday, Aug. 30. They will provide items such as cots, mops, brooms, buckets, PPE, snacks and bottled water. Partnering with the Southern Baptists, Red Cross will also be providing meals at 6 p.m. at the Civic Center. On Monday, two meal times will be provided at this location. Times TBA.
  • All residents in Calcasieu Parish - including within municipalities - who are experiencing water outages are being urged to turn off their water at the roadside water valves if they are able to safely do so. This assists providers to begin delivering service sooner, while reducing issues like leaks or broken pipes that would cause a shutdown of water systems. Crews continue to work to identify issues and make necessary repairs. Please contact your water system provider should you suspect a leak or other damage to your water system. Once water is restored, it is advised that residents adhere to a boil advisory until it is safe for those advisories to be lifted.
  • To register for FEMA federal disaster assistance, call 1-800-621-3362 or register online at disasterassistance.gov. If you have insurance, contact your adjuster and begin the insurance process.
  • Road conditions are dangerous throughout the parish. Many roads are still impassable. Power lines are dangling; most traffic lights are on the ground – drive slowly and carefully.
  • It’s crucial to practice generator safety. The parish has reported five deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning this week. Make sure generators are hooked up correctly and never operate them in enclosed spaces.
  • Residents who wish to return to Calcasieu Parish will not be stopped from doing so, with the understanding that services are extremely linited, including water, power, gasoline, groceries and hospitals. Any citizens wishing to return are strongly encouraged to secure their homes then return to evacuation. Citizens who stay must be self-sufficient.
  • Residents who remain in the parish must adhere to the 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. Essential employees should have their work IDs with them at all times.
  • Traffic signals are not working. When driving, treat every intersection as a four-way stop.
  • Contractors and the National Guard have made much progress with debris clearance – they are still in the “push phase” – pushing debris to the side of the road. The next phase will be removal.
  • Communications in the parish are inconsistent. There are significant landline and cell phone system problems parish wide. Many agencies are experiencing radio problems.
  • Officials are asking residents to be practical with cell phone use. Text whenever possible and use short phone calls when necessary.
  • Officials with Entergy ( https://www.entergy.com/view-outages/ [entergy.com] ) and Beauregard Electric ( www.becioutage.org [becioutage.org]) say damage is extensive and widespread and that residents should expect to be out of electricity for weeks.
  • Call United Way’s 211 to connect with resources for help.
  • The National Guard will also begin COVID-19 testing again on Sunday, Aug. 30. Times TBD.
  • Nearly all of the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury’s buildings sustained damage. As a result, all parish offices will be closed until further notice.
  • Calcasieu Parish schools will be closed until further notice. The majority of the system’s 70 buildings have damage. For information, visit https://www.cpsb.org/ [cpsb.org].
  • Be cautious and aware of scams. The Louisiana Attorney General’s website has details at https://www.ag.state.la.us/ [ag.state.la.us].

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