Contact: Renee C. Allemand
Public Information Officer
(985) 783-5000; (504) 269-7636 (cell); (985) 783-5023 (fax)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE #9
5 p.m. August 31, 2008
ST. CHARLES PARISH UPDATE
HAHNVILLE – St. Charles Parish is now under a hurricane warning.
If you are still in St. Charles Parish, you still have time to evacuate. However, that window is rapidly closing as Hurricane Gustav approaches the coast. State Police will begin shutting down major roadways with the onset of tropical storm force winds. That could happen as early as 11 p.m., with hurricane force winds arriving Monday morning.
The parish estimates 90 percent of residents on the West Bank have evacuated; 80 percent on the East Bank. Water usage within the parish is the lowest ever recorded.
The entire parish is at risk due to storm surge flooding. High waves will challenge the East Bank hurricane protection levee. If this levee fails, there will be catastrophic damage.
We are hearing reports that some East Bank residents are staying behind. The parish wants you to know that you are NOT safe. Winds alone will provide moderate damage to housing. The parish could receive as much as 10 inches of rainfall throughout the event.
Because of Gustav’s likely angle of approach, storm surges will be pushed up into the Barataria Basin and into the unprotected West Bank of St. Charles Parish. Storm surge is of particular concern within the Sunset Drainage District in Des Allemands. Flooding still remains a possibility in housing south of Hwy. 90.
St. Charles Parish Emergency Operations Center Director Tab Troxler said Saturday Gustav is the most serious storm threat he has faced in the 18 years he has been on the job. Gustav is currently a deadly Category 3 hurricane and will move onshore at this strength.
If you are staying in the parish, please call EOC at 985-783-5050 to report your whereabouts in the event you need to be rescued. There are NO public shelters open within the parish.
Please understand that electricity could be out for as much as a month due to extensive infrastructure damage. Loss of running water and sewage is also a possibility.
Assisted evacuation has been completed. St. Charles Parish has moved about 1,300 residents and their pets to out-of-parish shelters.
All protective actions are being taken in accordance with the timeline set by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. EOC is fully staffed and prepared to handle incoming phone calls. A small group of pump station operators continue to remain in the parish.
A group of Public Works employees and hospital personnel has evacuated to Port Allen in the event the parish is unreachable. Recovery equipment (machinery) has been parked on the Mississippi River levee to ensure it is out of the reach of flood waters.
Parish officials are in contact with the National Guard and FEMA and are in the process of contingency planning for search and rescue operations.
Please continue to keep these things in mind:
• Airline Highway is now closed at the St. Charles / Jefferson Parish line. If you need to reach St. Charles via Airline, please detour onto River Road.
• If you have transportation but do not have a place to stay, the state of Louisiana has set up public shelters. For a list of information checkpoints on these shelters, visit www.stcharlesgov.net/hurricane/stateguide.htm.
• St. Charles Parish Waterworks strongly urges those evacuating their homes or trailers to turn off their water at the meter.
• Sheriff’s deputies will closely patrol residential neighborhoods to guard against looting.
• Garbage pickup has been suspended. Please secure your garbage can and any debris.
• The St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter is now closed indefinitely. Please call EOC at (985) 783-5050 for any animal-related emergencies.
• St. Charles Parish Public Schools will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Parents will be contacted by the school system regarding further closings. Boutte Christian Academy is also closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
• Sign up to receive e-mail updates throughout any storm event by sending your e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Residents should bring their own shovels for sandbags, which are available at 37 locations around the parish. For a complete list of locations, visit www.stcharlesgov.net/hurricane.
St. Charles Parish residents are urged to stay tuned to Cable Channel 6, www.stcharlesgov.net and 1370 AM for additional updates.
St. Charles Parish Public Information Officer Renee C. Allemand will offer continual, up-to-the-minute updates from the parish courthouse throughout the storm via Web log at stcharlesgov.blogspot.com. Residents are invited to log on to comment on any of the topics that will be presented, which include traffic information, school closings, possible damage reports and storm forecasts. Check the blog often for video and photos of parish preparations and aftermath.
Also, WWL-870 AM is imbedding a tie-line within St. Charles Parish EOC. Residents may tune into that station to get updates directly from the parish during the storm event.