The winter storm that made its way through Southwest Louisiana early Monday seems to be milder than anticipated, with scattered power outages and few car crashes, officials said.
Calcasieu Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness Director Dick Gremillion credited the office's "eerily quiet" day on residents staying home and off icy roadways.
“I would’ve thought there would be more traffic, but I think people aren’t taking any chances,” Gremillion said. “The amount of ice on the roads has prevented most people from even leaving their driveway.”
State Police Troop D Public Information Officer Derek Senegal said there were four crashes and three reports of stalled vehicles as of Monday afternoon. He urged residents to stay put overnight and avoid driving “unless absolutely necessary,” with any thawed roadways expected to refreeze Monday evening into early Tuesday.
Icy conditions forced the closure of the U.S. 165 Union Pacific Railroad overpass in Kinder and the ramp from Interstate 210 westbound to I-10 eastbound. The Union Pacific overpass had reopened as of Monday afternoon, Senegal said.
Margaret Harris, customer service representative with Entergy Louisiana, said as of 3 p.m. Monday, there were 388 customers without power in Calcasieu, Cameron and Jeff Davis parishes. She said the outages were scattered.
“We have fared fairly well through this storm,” she said. “We do expect to continue to have some power outages as the very cold conditions continue.”
Gremillion said Southwest Louisiana was fortunate not to experience widespread power outages as it did during the 1997 ice storm. Hurricane Laura’s August landfall blew down many trees. Gremillion said a lack of trees may be the reason for fewer widespread outages.
“If there was a benefit from Laura, that might be it,” Gremillion said. “At this point, there just seems to be little pockets of outages here and there.”
Harris said the hospitals and water treatment plans throughout the service region did not lose power.
Gremillion urged residents to use caution when operating space heaters and generators. Icy roadways can also pose challenges for first responders.
“The biggest thing is don’t go out and try to work outside,” he said. “If a person would be injured or if there was any kind of public safety issue, there’s going to be an extended response time because of the weather.”
To notify State Police of hazardous driving conditions, dial *577.
Entergy customers can receive updates by texting REG to 36778. For more information, visit entergy.com/app.
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