The mandatory evacuation issued for Calcasieu Parish ahead of Hurricane Delta’s Oct. 9 landfall will be lifted at noon today. The announcement by local officials at a briefing Monday comes less than a week after it was issued Oct. 7.
Calcasieu Parish Administrator Bryan Beam said the decision to lift the mandatory evacuation was made because many services are once again operational, including water, sewer, police, garbage collection, and medical services.
“The local elected officials feel very confident that the timing is good for this,” Beam said.
Residents who were evacuated to a shelter by bus, or are being assisted through FEMA or Red Cross programs, will not be impacted by mandatory evacuation being lifted, Beam said.
“Nobody loses that sheltering for now,” he said.
Residents who find their homes unlivable after Delta can call 911 to get information on sheltering. Those who choose to stay in their homes but still need assistance can call 211.
Dick Gremillion, Calcasieu Office of Emergency Preparedness director, said the points-of-distribution sites continue to provide basic goods, such as MRE’s, bottled water and ice. Locations include: Lake Charles Civic Center, 900 Lakeshore Drive; Washington-Marion High School, 2802 Pineview St.; Memorial Park Plaza, 3009 Gerstner Memorial Drive; Old Tyme Variety and Crafts site, 810 Ruth St., Sulphur; KC Hall, 503 U.S. 90, Iowa; and Railroad Museum, 400 Lake Charles Ave. Another site will open Wednesday at 568 Sulphur Ave. in Westlake.
Gremillion said the POD sites will remain open for the next 7-10 days.
The “lilypad operation,” where residents can be taken by bus to outside shelters, will continue, with pick up times changing to 3 p.m., Gremillion said.
Residents can report Hurricane Delta damage online at damage.la.gov. Gremillion said this is critical because the parish needs to prove damages from the storm in order to receive an individual assistance declaration for Delta. Gremillion said search and rescue crews, along with the Red Cross, continue to perform welfare checks and damage assessments.
Stitch Guillory, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office chief deputy, said the curfew was updated Monday to 10 p.m.-6 a.m. He said the curfew may be lifted at some point, but some areas are still without power.
Guillory said the sheriff and all local police chiefs within Calcasieu Parish supported the mandatory evacuation order being lifted.
Guillory said 78 arrests have been made since the last crime report, with 41 being charged with curfew violations. He said the department is stepping up enforcement on residents being out past curfew, with 31 people jailed Sunday for violations.
The Sheriff’s Office will resume normal operations Tuesday, Guillory said.
Margaret Harris, customer service representative for Entergy Louisiana, said the vast majority of customers in Calcasieu and Cameron parishes should have power restored by Thursday. A few areas may get power restored later, she said.
As of Tuesday morning, more than 6,600 customers were still without power in Calcasieu Parish. More than 70,000 customers lost power during and after the storm.
Harris said the western side of Calcasieu suffered less damage from Hurricane Delta than the eastern side. Harris thanked parish and city utility workers for assisting Entergy in restoring power quickly.
“We have risen to this occasion both for Laura and Delta,” she said. ”I think this is an excellent effort because we did in fact have so many customers without power.”
Harris said there were two reports Monday of live wires. To report a live wire, call 1-800-Entergy. She said residents should assume every downed wire is live.
Beam said the majority of Beauregard Electric Cooperative customers had power restored as of Monday.
Robbie Lee, regional vice president of Altice USA’s mid-south region, said 29,000 Suddenlink customers in Calcasieu Parish, or 67 percent, are without internet service. That is a drop from 38,000 customers, or 88 percent, being offline the morning of Saturday Oct. 10. Prior to Delta’s landfall, 57 percent of customers were without internet.
“We hope to be back to that number quickly,” he said.
Restoration crew members were temporarily moved to staging locations in the days leading up to Delta’s landfall, Lee said. Damage assessment started Saturday, with field teams continuing to refuel power supply generators until facilities have full power restored. Utility crews gave Suddenlink workers the all clear Monday to resume restoration efforts, Lee said.
The Suddenlink office in Lake Charles suffered minor impacts from Hurricane Delta and is expected to reopen later this week, Lee said. The local WiFi hotspots are “gradually coming back up” as damage assessments continue, he said.
Calcasieu Parish School Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus said students are expected to return to 10-15 schools by the start of next week. Before Delta’s landfall, 18 schools had students in class, with 13 schools expected to resume classes last week, and another 11 planned to start Wednesday.
Bruchhaus said damage assessment shows Delta brought water into many campuses. Damage varied from water coming in through windows and doors, to entire roofs and tarps being blown off by the storm.
Bruchhaus said the attitude of students and faculty at the schools that had resumed classes before Delta was positive. He said he understands opinions vary on when schools should reopen, but the main goal is to get students back in class as soon as possible.
“We’re not going to waiver from the fact that our students haven’t been in school since March 13,” Bruchhaus said. “As soon as we can get students back in school buildings in a face-to-face educational environment, we’re going to do it. We’re not going to apologize for that. That is our priority. We consider those schools a safe haven for our students.”
Jerry Stolar with FEMA said the state continues to assess damages from Hurricane Delta. Once that is done, the state will determine whether to recommend to Gov. John Bel Edwards whether he should request a major presidential disaster declaration.
Currently, an emergency declaration is in place. Stolar said that puts limitations on what can be reimbursed, including what Calcasieu Parish and the city of Lake Charles did to prepare for Delta’s landfall. The declaration does not provide for individual assistance to homeowners impacted by Hurricane Delta.
Southwest Louisiana residents can sign up for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers program, Operation Blue Roof. Stolar said the program is open for residents who had a blue tarp from Laura that was torn or dislodged by Delta, or those wanting to get a new one.
Registration for the program is open through Oct. 24. For more, call 888-766-3258 or visit usace.army.mil/blueroof. The program is open to residents in Calcasieu, Cameron, Jeff Davis, Beauregard, Allen and Vernon parishes.
The deadline to register for FEMA assistance from Hurricane Laura is Oct. 27. Visit disasterassistance.gov or call 800-621-3362.
The FEMA drive-thru recovery centers will be up and running, starting Tuesday. Locations include the Lake Charles Civic Center and Frasch Park, 400 Picard Road, Sulphur. Hours are 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
FEMA also has three smaller registration intake centers. Locations include the Martin Luther King Center, 2009 N. Simmons St.; Huber Park Community Center, 20421 Fourth Ave.; and Westlake City Hall, 1001 Mulberry St. Operating hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Farmers seeking recovery from flood damages caused by Hurricane Delta can get help through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Services Program. For more, visit farmers.gov.
Those seeking other resources, such as counseling and behavioral health services, or help with replacing important documents, should visit the Governor’s Office online hub at hurricanelaura.la.gov.
Calcasieu Police Jury President Tony Guillory urged residents parish-wide to fill out the 2020 census. For more, visit 2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020.
Early voting for the Nov. 3 election begins Friday, Oct. 16 until Oct. 27, excluding Sundays. Early ballots can be cast 8 a.m.-7 p.m. at the Civic Center Exhibition Hall; Moss Bluff Library, 261 Parish Road; and the Sulphur Law Enforcement Center, 500 A N. Huntington St.
Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said the city’s garbage collection has resumed its regular schedule. Residents wanting to request trucks to collect spoiled food can call the city at 491-1220.
City Hall and other services will reopen Thursday, Hunter said. City transit and recreation centers remain closed.
Hunter reminded residents struggling with post-hurricane stress or depression to call 211 or the Family and Youth Counseling Agency at 439-9533.
Hunter called on FEMA to combine Hurricanes Laura and Delta into one disaster. He said he was disappointed to find out from his insurance provider that he would have to file separate claims for both storms. Stolar said FEMA is not leaning toward combining both hurricanes.
Beam said several parish buildings are being assessed, with offices anticipated to reopen later this week.
The next Hurricane Delta briefing is set for 4 p.m. Wednesday.