Parish expected to get wind, rain from Karen
By PRESTON GILL
MORGAN CITY — A cold front should shove Tropical Storm Karen to the east, sparing Morgan City and St. Mary Parish, a National Weather Service forecaster said this morning.
Robert Deal, a forecaster with the weather service in Lake Charles said, “Our best guess is landfall in southeast Louisiana, just clipping the New Orleans area and continue to move northeast into Alabama and Georgia,” Deal said.
Deal said winds in Morgan City are expected to be 20 to 40 mph Saturday.
“Morgan City should miss out on the heaviest of rainfall. We expect about 1 inch of rain,” Deal said.
Governmental agencies throughout the parish went into preparedness mode Thursday when the National Weather Service said Tropical Storm Karen could impact the parish.
Parish President Paul Naquin said in his 24 years of public service, the parish is in its best position ever to weather a storm. He does not expect evacuations nor the need to open any shelters.
The U.S. Coast Guard set port condition Yankee for the Morgan City zone which means gale force winds of 34 mph or greater are expected within the next 48 hours and precautions should be taken. All ports and waterways are currently open.
Duval Arthur Jr., parish Office of Emergency Preparedness director, said the minimal tidal surge expected might put water in low lying areas around Burns Point and Cypremort Point, but there would be no noticeable effects around Morgan City from the tidal surge.
Naquin said the parish is protected from storm surges if they do come.
“The barge we have at the Franklin Canal for flood protection in case of a surge could be utilized within 45 minutes,” Naquin said. “The Hanson Canal is already closed with sheet pilings so water can’t come in from the Bayou Teche or the Intercoastal. We are well prepared.”
Although it looks as if Karen will not pose significant problems, Arthur said parish crews are ready and on standby.
“We feel like it is dissipating slowly but surely. We are on the edge of the tropical storm warning but we are not in any real threat,” Arthur said. “We have sand bags ready to go if they need to be dispersed.”
Henry LaGrange, parish chief administrative officer, said parish officials are watching the storm closely and are making preparations such as topping off fuel tanks and making sure vulnerable equipment is protected or ready to be moved.
Morgan City Mayor Frank Grizzaffi said the city has personnel and resources ready for the storm.
“We will still stay vigilant and make decisions as information becomes available,” Grizzaffi said. “We think it will be mostly a wind event at worse so our departments are tying down anything loose. Everybody is on standby. We have done all we can do up to this point based on the forecast we have been given.”
Patterson Mayor Rodney Grogan said workers in his city are inspecting canals and drainage areas for tall grass and trash to make sure those will not be problems if there are heavy rains.
“We will stay in touch with parish officials and have things in place if sand bagging becomes needed,” Grogan said.
Newell Slaughter, Berwick chief administrative officer, said the town has emergency crews on standby, but they are not expecting to have to use them.
“We will be ready if they are needed,” Slaughter said.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Tour du Teche activities are still planned as scheduled, Slaughter said.
Naquin said residents should not lower their guard in expectation of the storm not being a major one.
“We are asking everybody to have a plan in place for water, food and meds; to have a three or four day supply,” Naquin said.
Nicole Patin, Tour du Teche executive director, said the fourth annual paddle racing continued its leg to St. Martinville today and is expected to run as scheduled the rest of the way and conclude Sunday in Berwick. Tour organizers will assess the situation Saturday morning before approving the leg that ends in Franklin.
Katie Tamporello, assistant director of Cajun Coast Visitors & Convention Bureau, said the Harvest Moon Festival and festival at the Berwick Lighthouse will take place this weekend.
The St. Andrew Knights of Columbus decided to postpone its Saturday Gumbo Cook Off, which will be rescheduled at a later date.