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River Parishes watching Earl

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / September 2, 1998

LAPLACE – The River Parishes braced for the approach of Hurricane Earl, as it took direct aim at this region, landfall expected Wednesday afternoon.

According to St. John Civil Service Director Bertram Madere, stormreadiness plans were well under way since the morning, when parish officials moved to “alert” phase at 10 a.m.”This is a really bad time,” St. Charles Parish Emergency OperationsDirector Tab Troxler responded breathlessly Tuesday afternoon, as he confirmed the latest projected path of the storm.

From a relatively mild Tuesday morning, bands of thunderstorms swept into the River Parishes Tuesday afternoon, pounding evening drive-time motorists as they hurried home to make last-minute preparations.

Based on reports from the National Weather Service, Madere supposed the storm would slowly drift from its position near the Yucatan Peninsula toward the mouth of the Mississippi River, brush past Venice and head toward the Florida Panhandle.

However, by Tuesday morning, was still in a “wait and see” mode, and said the River Parishes likely won’t see the storm’s effects locally until Thursday night or Friday morning.

That changed during the day as National Weather Service predictions Tuesday afternoon shifted the projected path for Earl toward Morgan City and into the River Parishes. Sandbag locations in the River Parishes wereannounced Tuesday afternoon.

With the drought conditions of the past summer, most drainage ditches and canals were already nearly dry. However, pump stations were placedon full alert, parish officials stated.

A tropical storm is defined as a system which reaches wind speeds of 40 to 73 mph. A Category One hurricane has sustained winds of 74 to 95 mph,causing minimal damage. A Category Two hurricane has sustained winds of96 to 110 mph, causing moderate damage.

LaPlace’s last serious brush with hurricanes was the deadly tornado spawned by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

At the St. Charles Parish Emergency Operations Center in Hahnville, aspokesman said Monday afternoon representatives from public works and the sheriff’s office were meeting with Parish President Chris Tregre to review plans and ensure the parish’s readiness.

And, in St. James Parish, conference calls were progressing with 13regional emergency preparedness directors and the governor’s office, as the region made ready to handle whatever happens.

Bands of thunderstorms are expected to continue through Wednesday and it was supposed, at worst, Tropical Storm Earl could develop to a Category Two storm.

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