Postcard from Paul: News from the disaster area

I just got an e-mail from Paul. He’s forwarding to me an e-mail he received from Ken Wheaton, and it details a conference call held among the Red Cross, FEMA, the Department of Transportation, Louisiana State Representative Steve Scalise, and other concerned officials.

It’s in pretty raw form, but I’ll try to flesh it out. I’m also woefully ignorant of local Louisiana geography and other references, so I’m depending on the Wizbang readers to clarify as needed in the comments.

Concerned Louisiana refugees can check on their insurance coverage through two sources: the State Department of Insurance, 1-800-259-5300, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency hotline, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

Highway reports:

I-12 is operational from Baton Rouge to Slidell.

“The Causeway” needs minor repairs at the north end of the southbound structure. (I hope that means something to you folks, ‘cuz it sounds like Serbo-Croatian to this New Hampshirite.)

As of Wednesday morning, I-10 from Slidell to Pearl River was being inspected, but seems all right.

On the other hand, I-10 into Mississippi is out near Bay St. Louis.

The Twin Span is severely damaged, but a team is in place and checking it out. They are consulting with experts from Florida to see how they repaired a similar structure so quickly. Right now, they expect it to take 30 to 60 days to repair one span of it and open it to two-way traffic.

Chef Menteur to US 90 appears to be all right, but US 90 within Mississippi is in bad shape.

Survival tips:

BOIL YOUR WATER. Pretend you’re an expectant father from an old movie, and BOIL YOUR WATER.

FEMA and the Red Cross are working on plans for refugees that include three to six months in shelters. And FEMA is preparing to offer up to 18 months of shelter to those who need it. The form to apply can be accessed here.

Anyone in the area looking to volunteer to help is being urged to call 211. This is becoming the social services version of 911, and should be up and running at this point.

News about various parishes (Louisiana’s version of counties) being reported by WWL-TV:

Residents of Jefferson Parish: You can return on Monday, starting at 6 a.m., with proper ID, to collect your belongings. But be prepared to not return for at least a month.

Orleans Parish: Closed off. The Highrise is unsafe, and many parts of I-10 are flooded.

St. Tammany Parish: The Highway 11 bridge is intact. The Twinspans and I-10 are destroyed.

St. Charles Parish: Residents may return home, but be warned there is no power, no food, and littl fuel. Bring your own supplies with you. Water is available on Airline, near the St. Charles/Jefferson Parish line.

Terebonne Parish: No roads closed. Use Highway 90 or the Sunshine Bridge.

Lafourche Parish: The curfew is now lifted. You may return to your homes. But be warned that Highway 1 is closed between Golden Meadow and Grand Isle.

St. James Parish and St. John Parish: Open to residents only, who must show their ID.

Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes remain closed.

General Recovery News:

FEMA’s short-term goal is search and rescue efforts. Once those wind down, they will have plans in place to rebuild the infrastructure of the devastated areas — roads, utilities, and the like.

The current priorities in the disaster areas are as follows:

1) Search and rescue.
2) Repairing the breeches in the levees to stop more water from coming in.
3) Stopping the looting.

Over 300 Military Police should be in the city by now, with literally thousands more military and local/state police to follow.

Baton Rouge:

Baton Rouge is becoming the first stop for refugees. Shelters are filling up, hotels are full, and gas is in very short supply — one person reported driving around for half an hour and not being able to find a single open gas station.

I’ll post more as I get it and decipher it.

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  1. htom September 2, 2005
  2. skyburnt September 2, 2005
  3. mesablue September 2, 2005