By Jerry Bell, Emergency Operations Manager
We are now in week seven of Hurricane Laura and the damage assessments continue. We are presently still in Phase II reporting all our damage and conducting site inspections so there is not much to report at this time. The debris pickup was sidelined because of Hurricane Delta but now has started back so continue to move your debris out to the curb; this is very important. As stated before the trucks will still be here as long as there is debris to be picked up.
So now let me give you an update on Hurricane Delta:
Hurricane Delta struck us on Friday, Oct. 9, starting basically all day with the tremendous amount of rain and wind. It seems like this hurricane went on for hours.
After the winds subsided, the DeQuincy Police Force, the Street Crews, the Fire Department, along with citizen volunteers started clearing the roads and by daylight all the large trees had been removed with the exception of the one on Smith St. because it was lying across power lines. The electricity had gone out around 7 p.m. and the city was in dark.
Once again quick work by the city crews prevented anyone from getting hurt inside the city. The crews worked all night to clear the roads. One tree fell on a gas line on Boise St. so Eddy Dahlquist and his crew had to fix that because of the gas leakage. This gas line took several hours to fix but it was done.
Right after the storm subsided, Chief Casey Whitehead and his men started clearing all the roads of the debris that had blown in the road consisting mostly of tin. The emergency responders were surprised that there was not more debris on the road considering the amount of debris that Hurricane Laura had left. The roads were not as bad as they could have been.
Having just gone through Hurricane Laura and having experience with Hurricane Rita, the Emergency Manager started sending requests through OEP for several tasking.
One tasking was for the state to get our traffic lights up with generators, another tasking was for FEMA to set up a Point of Distribution (POD) center at the DeQuincy Railroad Museum for supplies. The POD was set up on Sunday, Oct. 11 and already serviced over 700 people from our area with ice, tarps, MREs, and water. This was done at a much faster pace than what happened during Hurricane Laura.
The city of DeQuincy presently has outstanding relations with FEMA, Governor’s Office of Homeland Security (GOHSEP) and the Calcasieu OEP. The personal relationships that had been established between Mayor Riley Smith, the Emergency Manager, and the Police Chief with those agencies, helped get our requests done in a speedy manner.
My contacts with the Louisiana National Guard leadership helped push our requests through. A fuel truck for first responders came on station on Sunday, Oct. 11. This was also an emergency request that had been placed right before the hurricane, not knowing how long our electricity would be out. Fuel is a big deal during a disaster and the state came through for us on this one.
One of the major problems with this hurricane was the amount of rain along with the high wind gusts. Many of our citizens had placed tarps on their roofs right after Laura; the high winds came and shredded the tarps causing leakage inside their homes. This was one of the major problems. An emergency request was placed through OEP to get tarps here immediately.
The National Guard POD will be open from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. daily to pass out tarps to those in need. They have plenty of supplies for those in need. With the POD being located at the Railroad Museum parking area, citizens needing tarps and other supplies should line up from the north. The first day, the lines went rather fast for the amount of people that were lined up.
The next thing to happen will be the repeat of what happened with Hurricane Laura. City officials will meet with FEMA and the process begins again with the damage assessment and the inputting of data to the FEMA portal and the GOHSEP portal. A FEMA public assistance official will be designated and a scoping meeting conference call will be held. There will be decisions and possible new contracts for debris removal. Hopefully this process will go smoothly as we just did the same process with Hurricane Laura.
It is so rare that there are back to back hurricanes of this magnitude but it is what it is and the process has to go through. DeQuincy has to go through this process hoping to get funds to help offset the costs that will be incurred like the debris removal.
It probably will be hard to determine what is Laura or Delta debris and we hope common sense prevails in this matter. Debris removal for Hurricane Laura is only half way completed.
Our citizens who had damage with Hurricane Delta should register with FEMA to get what help they can. I have already met with our FEMA official on Sunday, Oct. 11, to begin the process all over again.
Help Your Neighbors
Once again our citizens have had to endure hardships. We must help our neighbors as much as possible. We must help our senior citizens through all this stress and hardship. Luckily for us, our stores came on line in record time, so our citizens can buy what they need if they have the resources. We must help those that don’t have the resources. Let’s try not to let anyone fall through the cracks if they need something.
CLECO has come through for us again. They had downtown lights on by Sunday, Oct. 11, and the rest of the town will be up shortly. We must give thanks for our men and women working the power lines. Calling them heroes is an understatement. When you pass them on the road working, give them a thumbs up, they will understand what you mean.
Lastly, but very importantly, let’s all give thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ for bringing us through another storm in DeQuincy with no fatalities.
Be Safe and Wise.