American Press

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Southwest Louisiana ,
Cars pass through a flooded road near the interstate in Lake Charles on Wednesday. (Rick Hickman/American Press)

Cars pass through a flooded road near the interstate in Lake Charles on Wednesday. (Rick Hickman/American Press)

Storms cause widespread problems throughout SW La.

Last Modified: Thursday, May 04, 2017 7:07 AM

By Marilyn Monroe / American Press

Severe storms caused widespread flooding Wednesday and kept emergency personnel busy throughout the area.

“All the public safety agencies around the parish have been on calls all day long,” Dick Gremillion, director of the Calcasieu Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness, said late Wednesday afternoon.

He said lightning strikes caused fires earlier in the day and that agencies not only had to respond to structure fires but also to downed power lines and people needing assistance after getting their vehicles stuck in high water.

“We are getting a lot of reports of people saying that they are seeing water in certain spots they haven’t seen water before,” Gremillion said.

In Sulphur, flooding at Holly Hill Nursing and Rehabilitation Center forced the evacuation of residents. Gremillion said Sulphur firefighters, Acadian Ambulance and OEP workers used Calcasieu Parish Public Transit System buses to move 76 residents to another facility.

In Iowa, a school bus with students on board drove off a roadway into high water. Holly Holland, Calcasieu Parish School Board spokeswoman, said no injuries were reported and that “all the students are fine.”

Sgt. James Anderson said state police responded to “over three times as many crashes and incidents” Wednesday as they normally do but that there were no casualties. He said many incidents on Interstates 10 and 210 were preventable — the result of “excessive speed for the conditions.”

“Anytime it is raining, we encourage people to ensure that their headlights are on, that they increase their following distance, allow additional time to get to their destination and that they wear their seat belt,” Anderson said.

He said that driving around barricades in flooded areas is against state law. “If they are caught, they are subject to an up to $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail,” Anderson said.

He said drivers can get information on road closures by calling 511, visiting or by downloading the 511 Louisiana app.

The threat of further storms later in the day resulted in early dismissal at area schools; the temporary suspension of public transit in Lake Charles; the early closure of government agencies and businesses; and the rescheduling of the Lake Charles City Council meeting to Thursday. Jeff Davis Parish schools are expected to remain closed today.

Roger Erickson, warning coordination meterologist with the National Weather Service, said Calcasieu Parish had seen 4 to 11 inches of rain by late afternoon. He said the largest amount fell in the Moss Bluff area.

“We also had some reports of large hail from Allen and Rapides parishes. They were golf ball-sized or larger,” Erickson said.

“There were also reports from Vermilion Parish, on Pecan Island, about 1 inch or larger hail, but it was very deep down there. From the picture I saw, it looked like someone had driven through snow, it was so deep in the roads.”

He said flash flood warnings extended from Southeast Texas eastward into Lafayette and that wind gusts in the area were estimated to have been 40 to 50 mph. “There were a few scattered reports of minor wind damage in Jeff Davis and Vermilion parishes,” Erickson said.

He said residents can expect a clear and sunny day today.

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