White Christmas catches drivers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 30, 2004


Staff Reporter

RIVER PARISHES – It was cold, windy and snowy on Christmas Day. These three weather conditions are traditionally associated with holidays up north, not in southern Louisiana.

Nevertheless, residents in St. John, St. James and St. Charles Parishes joined the Yankees as they observed their ‘white’ holiday on Saturday.

Families that stayed indoors had no problem with the inclement weather. It was another story for those who needed to travel outside their parish.

Interstate-10 was closed through the River Parishes, as well as a stretch of Interstate-55. The Veterans Memorial Bridge and the Sunshine Bridge in St. James Parish, as well as the Hale Boggs Bridge in St. Charles Parish, also did not allow travelers to pass, due to icing and unsafe traveling conditions.

According to the Louisiana State Police, five separate vehicle crashes as a result of ice on westbound I-10 at mile post 210 in LaPlace were investigated on Saturday. There was one serious injury as a result of one of the accidents.

Sgt. Dane Clement, public information officer for the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office, said that an additional 17 accidents were investigated by his office, in addition to the state police figures.

This compares with nine accidents investigated during the Dec. 23-26 holiday time frame last year. Of those nine, injuries occurred in five of them.

“This (weather) was great for a white Christmas,” said Clement. “But it was hazardous for driving conditions.”

In the scheme of things, the freak snowfall in this part of the state didn’t cause much of an inconvenience other than the traveling problem, according to St. John Parish Public Safety Director Paul Oncale.

“We have no gauge to measure snow, so we don’t know exactly how much we had,” he said. “But it was a small amount and didn’t last long.”

That didn’t keep local children from making the most of what they had.

“The kids were so excited. They couldn’t wait to get out and play in the snow,” Oncale laughed. “It was a peaceful Christmas dinner. I picked up the blinds and enjoyed the snowfall.”