Parish gearing up for 2nd round of winter
Homeland Security Director Duval Arthur
Preparations are under way for the second round of winter weather in less than a week as rain, sleet and possibly snow are expected to make travel treacherous across south Louisiana, officials say.
Homeland Security Director Duval Arthur said supplies of salt and sand for roadway de-icing are questionable as the state ran out of supplies during the Friday and Saturday event.
“It was a good thing the schools were closed. We had a lot of accidents Friday. Then Friday evening, all the bridges froze over because the state didn’t have enough sand and salt to cover the bridges … There was a heck of a lot of accidents. People losing control on icy roads, hitting the bridge or another car. That went on all night,” Arthur said.
Arthur said the state Department of Transportation and Development was called several times to try to get the material to St. Mary Parish.
Arthur said he was told DOTD was going to the salt mines on Avery Island to get rock salt.
The Department of Transportation and Development was unavailable for comment this morning.
Ultimately, every bridge and overpass in St. Mary Parish closed due to icing, except the La. 182 bridge over the Atchafalaya River, which was sanded early Friday morning, Arthur said.
As for the forecasted storm, Arthur said the National Weather Service, in a conference call this morning, predicted “more ice than last week, which is a lot. We actually probably caught the worst of parishes in the southwest region, St. Mary and Iberia. We had more bridges and overpasses shut down than anybody … There is a chance that we’ll get snow. It’ll probably get down as far as Opelousas. They’re not ruling it out, that’s for sure,” Arthur said.
However, he said St. Mary is forecasted to be primarily looking at another ice event Tuesday and Wednesday. Rain is predicted to begin here around 10 a.m. Tuesday with morning temperatures at freezing, he said.
“That’s when it’ll get bad. The precipitation with the wind and cold will cause ice conditions,” he said.
The state Department of Transportation and Development is the only agency that can salt or sand state roadways, Arthur said.
“We’ll have the state on standby, and we’re hoping they’ll have more material with which to do their jobs so they can do it,” he said.
Power outages also are predicted with the mounting ice on tree limbs and power lines, Arthur said.
“We had a lot of outages Friday night, in the Baldwin area especially. The western part of the parish caught hell … It looked like a winter wonderland. It created havoc. Some of those limbs in the trees that weren’t in good condition snapped creating outages,” he said, adding that he anticipated the same kinds of problems this time around.
If there is an extended power outage, Arthur said the parish would consider opening a shelter.
Cleco and Sleca representatives said they have crews on standby. All of Morgan City’s utility workers will be on call.