Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Transcript of Sheriff Champagne's Comments - Re-Entry Press Conference

We know that the number one thing on our residents’ minds who are not in the parish, is “When can I go back?”
We had to weigh the efficiency of trying to get the parish back in operation against peoples’ right to private property and to be in their homes.

We know that people, since Katrina, have experience with living in primitive conditions. The know what they’re getting into.
One thing we ask the media, we don’t want you to just put us on the board and say ‘St. Charles Parish is wide open.’ If you can, put something on the message board that says, ‘St. Charles Parish is open to citizens who have compelling reasons, that need to be back, and for whatever reason can’t stay where they are. We want them to understand completely, it’s like you’re going to be camping, it’s hot, you’re gonna sweat, you’re gonna smell, you can’t run your washing machines, you can’t flush your toilet… But you’re GOT running water, you can go outside and wash off with the hosepipe.

We know people are resourceful in St. Charles Parish, and so we’re confident that people can come back and not disrupt the work we have to do.

When you come home, stay at your house. The gas stations are not open, the ice house is not open, you ARE going to have water at your house… there is nothing to do but stay home. And you will only help us by staying home.

We will still be out protecting your property… the parish is dark at night. Deputies are out in full force, and the less people on the streets the better.

We believe the only place you will get re-entry is I-55 south into the LaPlace area, not going into LaPlace, but the northeast corner of St. John Parish right at the spillway, catching I-10 and then 3-10 into the parish.

This is the only place we can guarantee that St. Charles Parish residents who feel they have to be back, that you can come through.

We have asked the police not to stop our residents at a barricade outside the parish. So if you try to come in on the West Bank Expressway, you’re not going to be allowed through Jefferson Parish. So there’s no other guarantee that they’ll be able to get in at any other access point than this.

For the most part the trees have been cleared by Public Works. There are still some obstructions but not so much that we didn’t think we could allow this limited re-entry for our citizens. But power is still a problem.

We were very fortunate… we waited till early in the morning with rising surge waters. An unusual thing is happening now, there is a slight rise in waters in the Bayou Gauche area. That is from the southerly winds now, because the other indicators at the coast are that the surge is receding.

So we believe we’ve dodged a bullet as far as flooding is concerned. But we feel that the parish is at a point where people who know what they’re getting into can come back.

It’s important to remember the tier 1 and tier 2 responders, a lot of them have come in already. We’ve notified the state police earlier that we didn’t want residents to be turned away at the checkpoint in Ponchatoula.

So you have to have a St. Charles Parish ID indicating that you live here or an employment ID that you work here.
And the state police, we’re assured, will let our residents go through.

I-10 from I-55 south is the only access point we can guarantee our residents can get through.


jodi said...

so can we get through lafayette and baton rouge? i know those areas were hit pretty bad and i really dont want to get stuck with 5year old twins, it was a long enough ride leaving with them. and also does anyone know if fairfield in st.rose has power yet?

K said...

My husband got through yesterday going Hwy 1 to 3127. It was a maze of trees. poles, and power lines and even some road flooding from a feeder band, but no traffic. If you canget to Donandlsonville over the Sunshine, then take 3127 into St. Charles.