Residents of low-lying areas, as well as those living in mobile homes in Calcasieu Parish, are urged by the Office of Homeland Security Emergency Preparedness (OHSEP) to seek shelter Thursday, as tropical storm force winds from Hurricane Ike are projected to blow through Calcasieu Parish beginning Friday morning.


 

Residents of low-lying areas, as well as those living in mobile homes in Calcasieu Parish, are urged by the Office of Homeland Security Emergency Preparedness (OHSEP) to seek shelter Thursday, as tropical storm force winds from Hurricane Ike are projected to blow through Calcasieu Parish beginning Friday morning.

"What we're looking at today is a different scenario than from yesterday," Roger Erickson of the National Hurricane Center said at an early evening OHSEP briefing in Lake Charles. "With the best-case scenario, we're looking at a landfall projection sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning around Matagorda Bay in the central Texas coast.

“We're expecting this hurricane, as it moves across the Gulf of Mexico, to intensify into possibly a Category 4 hurricane before landfall. Not only is it going to become Category 4, but we're expecting it to increase in the size it's going to cover in the Gulf of Mexico. Because of that, we're expecting tropical storm force wind fields to reach Calcasieu Parish with this scenario."

Because of that and the potential for flooding from a storm surge of approximately 6 to 8 feet, OHSEP Director Dick Gremillion stated that a voluntary evacuation of those in low-lying areas and those who live in mobile homes (who typically are at the most risk from high winds) should seek shelter.

"This advisory is consistent with advice whenever tropical storm force winds and storm surge threaten our area. With tropical storm force winds we know we can expect power outages. Residents who have special needs that are dependant on electricity should make appropriate arrangements for their needs," Gremillion said.

He stressed, however, that there is currently no mandatory evacuation for Calcasieu Parish. 
Transportation for those wishing to evacuate is available at the Civic Center, according to Gremillion.

"Residents with special needs or those that need rides from their area and a place to stay can call 337-721-4020 to arrange for transportation to the Civic Center for coach bus transportation. Phone lines will be open until 10 p.m. tonight and will reopen at 8 a.m. Coach bus transportation will be available for residents who can be privately transported to the Civic Center also," he said.

Gremillion also stated that a mandatory evacuation would be called only if the worst of the hurricane force winds were forecast to come into Southwest Louisiana.

"But I want to point out that these systems are unpredictable. Right now, it's predicted to go south of Galveston. If it stays on this track, we won't have to have any other recommendations, but we will discuss that at our 6 a.m. briefing Thursday morning," said Gremillion.

Superintendent Wayne Savoy announced the closing of all Calcasieu Parish School System offices and schools for Thursday and Friday in order to allow those who choose to evacuate the opportunity to do so and to free school buses for evacuation purposes.

Sulphur Mayor Ron LeLeux expressed optimism about the immediate future but advised residents to check on the elderly and those with special needs.

"We all know some people that should be checked on. We're going to be fine. Our ancestors have gone through this, and we're going to do this, and this is the price you pay to live in the greatest place in the world. Please pay attention, call someone that you think might need some help, and we're going to come back strong," he said.

Southwest Daily News