The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury is holding a briefing on the significant rain event that hit the parish yesterday.
To a parish still recovering from two hurricanes and an ice storm, yesterday's floods were especially unwelcome.
You can watch the presser:
Andy Patrick with the National Weather Service says that most of the parish got around 5 to 10 inches, but between the airport and McNeese the amount was closer to 16 to 18 inches.
Bryan Beam, parish administrator, said a record was set. It was the third-highest rainfall recorded since the 1800s, he said. Officials estimated that between 300 and 600 people were rescued from rising waters yesterday.
The huge amount of water dumped on the parish over the course of just a few hours was complicated by the amount of hurricane debris that remains in the area, Beam says.
"There's no question debris from the hurricanes, especially Laura, is significant. It will take a long time" to clear it out, Beam said. "It's hard for people to understand the magnitude of the job. It will probably take multiple years, certainly more than a year, to clean out laterals of debris from the storms. It definitely creates bigger problems, but there's a very good reason. You get this many disaster events back to back, there's no human way to fix that problem, which is bigger than anything we've ever seen.
We're very aware of that problem."
Sheriff Tony Mancuso said he had help from the National Guard, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries and other agencies yesterday to help get people out of rising water. It's hard to see the parish hit, yet again, with a disaster, he said.
"I really wish i knew what to say to our citizens right now, because they've been through so much in the past year. Just hang in there. We're going to pick up the pieces and we're going to move on. It's going to be tough, but we're going to make it," he said.
Patrick, with the NWS, said flooding was inevitable yesterday.
"When you have that amount of rainfall in a very short period of time - this was generally within a 6 hour time frame - you will see flooding," he said.
And it's not over. Patrick said more rain is expected today - although it is hoped that a disturbance will push it farther northeast. Another disturbance is expected at daybreak, followed by another 12 hours later, he said. Another 4 to 6 inches is expected through Thursday, he said.
"One thing to keep in mind. There's going to be a relatively small area that will have a lot more than that; could be double," he said. "We just don't know where these heavy rain bands are going to set up. But we do think the chance for more organized, excessive rain will lessen as we head into Thursday and Friday."
As of now, the only shelter in operation is at Trinity Baptist Church. The sheriff said that about 120 people are still there, and praised the church for being willing to open their doors to take in anyone who needed shelter. If you need help and you're in danger, call 911, officials say. If you need help that's not an emergency, call 211.
Residents are also asking residents to self-report damage here. This will help officials get numbers of those who are flooded, and use that to get help from state and federal governments.
Here's some more info on cancellations:
Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne is announcing that state offices in Calcasieu Parish will be closed Wednesday, May 19, due to extreme flooding. All agency heads are responsible for determining those essential personnel who should remain on duty, report for duty or those who should report to alternate work sites as necessary. Officials continue to monitor conditions throughout the state, and this announcement may be updated.
This office closure applies to all nonessential employees, including those authorized to work from home due to COVID-19.TIMEKEEPERS: This is an office closure and should be coded as such. All employees in the affected parishes, including those authorized to work from home due to COVID-19, should use the Office Closure code (LSOC). Employees with further questions should seek guidance from their supervisors.
State employees should be aware of the following phone numbers to call, which will be updated: 1.800.360.9660 or 225.342.0498.
The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury announced that the regular meetings of the Parish Planning and Zoning Board and the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury have been cancelled for this week and rescheduled a week later.
The Planning and Zoning Board meeting scheduled for tonight has been rescheduled until Tuesday, May 25, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. in the Emergency Operations Center of the Calcasieu Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness at 901 Lakeshore Drive in Lake Charles. The Police Jury meeting originally set for Thursday has been changed to next Thursday, May 27, 2021 at 5:30 p.m., also in the EOC.
The Calcasieu River has been closed to recreational boat traffic from the Saltwater Barrier north to the parish line until further notice. The river closure includes areas of English Bayou and the West Fork of the Calcasieu River and was made official in an Executive Order signed today by Police Jury President Brian Abshire.
Due to ongoing weather concerns and facility damage from the flooding, all Calcasieu Parish Police Jury offices will be closed tomorrow, Wednesday, May 19, 2021.
Residents who experience flood damage are strongly encouraged to report their damage to State of Louisiana officials through a web link at www.damage.la.gov [damage.la.gov].
Residents may check rainfall totals in their area by visiting cppj.onerain.com.
Sandbag locations are available at www.calcasieuparish.gov/services/engineering-and-public-works/public-works/sandbag-locations [calcasieuparish.gov].