Morgan City to declare emergency
By JEAN L. KAESS
The time to make final preparations for Tropical Storm Isaac is upon the Tri-City area.
Morgan City Mayor Tim Matte said the city council would hold an emergency meeting at noon today in the city hall conference room to declare a state of emergency.
City officials continue to watch projections for the Atchafalaya River from the National Weather Service. Best projections Monday indicated tides running three to six feet higher at the mouth of the river, “but it doesn’t translate to that much here,” Matte said.
The National Weather Service’s website projects the river stage for the Atchafalaya River at Morgan City will be 3.8 feet at 1 p.m. today, cresting at 5 feet by 1 a.m. Wednesday and remaining at that height for 12 hours before slowly declining over the next several days.
In response, the city has closed only two of its 18 floodgates — at Railroad Avenue and Freret Street — those with the lowest elevations.
As to questions about electricity generation, Matte said “Realistically, even though we’re operating off an older transformer, we’re in no worse shape than we have been before the fire” that destroyed the 100 MW transformer at the Joseph J. Cefalu Sr. Municipal Steam Plant June 26.
The city was running off the replacement transformer and Unit 3 through the weekend. Matte said Unit 4 was tested Monday and was expected to be online around 9 a.m. today. Although the city expects isolated power outages from tree branches and debris taking down power lines, Matte said he does not anticipate a city-wide outage due to the power generation system.
As for drainage, Matte asked residents to pick up “anything that can fly or float” in an effort to keep drainage flowing during the storm. He noted that even garbage cans can become a problem for the system as one was found in one of the larger pipes in the city several years ago.
Sand and bags will remain available until the weather is too bad to fill them any longer. They are available under the bridge at David Drive. However, no personnel will be there to fill bags. Be prepared to fill your own bags, he said.
Mayor Louis Ratcliff said the town continues to prepare by cleaning ditches and drains. All town preparations should be concluded by noon. He asked residents to make sure the drains by their homes are clear of debris to enable the flow of storm water.
The three lowest gates on the seawall are closed — First, Pacific and Utah streets.
Sand bags are not available; however, if the storm appears to be turning more toward the area or threatening to dump substantial rain, they will be provided. A location has not been announced.
If a shelter of last resort becomes necessary, it will be activated by the Office of Emergency Preparedness and opened the Berwick Civic Center. No food or bedding will be provided. Ratcliff said it is anticipated that those in mobile homes who may not feel secure could utilize the shelter if necessary.
Trash pickup in Berwick occurred today, but will not happen Wednesday. Residents are asked to pick up their garbage cans.
City Hall will close at noon today. Additional police patrols have been activated and 12 to 15 volunteer firefighters will man the stations at all times during the storm.
Ratcliff’s advice to residents? “Hunker down and we’ll all get through this with God’s help.”
Like the other municipalities, Patterson is taking precautionary measures such as cleaning drains and ditches.
Mayor Rodney Grogan said the focus has been across the city, but specifically south of the railroad tracks because of past experiences with flooding in the area. Once flooding begins in the area, barriers will be placed to prevent sightseers who may push water into homes. Those who do not belong in the area will be charged, he said.
Sandbags will remain available as long as they are needed, probably into Thursday, at the Taft Street Sewer Yard. Grogan said activity has been brisk there as residents who have bayou side property have been making preparations to protect their homes.
Responding to several questions about mail service, Grogan said the Patterson Post Office will remain open throughout the week until further notice.
Garbage collection for Patterson will occur today, but not Wednesday as the Harold J. “Babe” Landry Landfill will be closed.
City Hall will be open today but will close Wednesday.
Grogan urged residents to check on elderly and disabled neighbors and to “lend them a hand if they need to leave to go to the shelter if it opens.”