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Calcasieu Parish storm preps

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Posted at 12:44 PM, Aug 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-24 13:44:45-04

Calcasieu Parish leaders came together this morning to brief the media and the public on parish preps for Marco and Laura.

You can see the entire press conference embedded below.

Andy Patrick, the meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Lake Charles, gave the latest on the storms. Marco is a very weak tropical storm, and will probably drop all the advisories sometime today, he said.

Laura is another story.

At the time of the presser, the storm was over Cuba and forecast to move into the Gulf sometimes Tuesday, and become a hurricane sometime that day.

"We have a very wide range of scenarios, but the current forecast has it coming into southwest Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane, possibly a category 3 hurricane, sometime Wednesday night," Patrick said.

He predicted the weather would "go downhill" late Wednesday and into Thursday morning. Hurricane winds - 75 miles per hour - are expected in the area starting Wednesday, he said. Storm surge will also be a problem, with 10-15 feet water levels during high tide Wednesday, and that will impact the Calcasieu River as well, he said.

Some areas could see 15 inches of rain, some could see less than that, he said. Tornadoes also are possible with the rain bands or in the eye, he said.

"We're about 60 hours out. The track forecast could shift either way, so it's best to stay on top of this as best you can," he said. "Wednesday night expect potential hurricane conditions, heavy storm surge and heavy rain threat."

Dick Gremillion, emergency preparedness director for the parish, said he isn't too worried about Marco right now, but he knows people want advice on what to do about Laura. People are trying to decide if they should go or stay home.

"We have the specter of COVID that we have to think about," he said. "We put people into a congregant setting and that could help spread the disease."

But people who live in storm surge areas, trailers, mobile homes not strapped down, should voluntarily evacuate, he said. If they stay, police or rescue will have to go check on you later, and that creates danger for them, he said.

"As things progress we will be giving more advice," he said. "We'll have more information later today."

Gremilion said his office is working on a graphic showing storm surge risk, but as of now, "south of Gauthier Road in Lake Charles, and south of Global Road in Carlyss area, everything south of there should be considering evactuation."

Sheriff Tony Mancuso said people in low-lying areas, prone to flooding, need to pay attention and "need to have a plan right now. Where they're going to go, what they're going to go, they need a plan right now."

There probably will be a curfew Wednesday evening, because of the danger of the weather and power outages, downed trees and power lines, etc. Essential workers will just need their usual work credentials to be exempt, he said.

"When the traffic lights and the electricity starts going out, we do that for your safety, we want you to be safe," he said. "When power starts to go out, it becomes unsafe for the public. That's why we do a dusk to dawn curfew. We're doing that for your safety. So be prepared for that."

Bryan Beam, Calcasieu Parish Administrator, said each storm is different, and the impacts depend on the storm.

Mayor Nick Hunter of Lake Charles said people need to think about what they're facing if they decide against evacuation.

"While this storm is different than Rita, there is a real chance of the loss of power, and the loss of water service," Hunter said.

He said it's important not to compare storms, but residents who are considering evacuation should factor the possibility of extended loss of water and power into their decisions. Timing is also important, because of traffic and weather, he said.

City services will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday - there won't be any trash pick-up and no transit services, he said. Hunter suggested residents check on elderly relatives or neighbors to see if they know what's going on.

Here's the full briefing: