Hurricane Rita has minimal effects in St. James Parish

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Managing Editor

CONVENT — Though a emergency declaration was made by St. James Parish President Dale Hymel Jr., damage from Hurricane Rita was “not that bad,” according to Emergency Preparedness Director Gerald Falgoust.

St. James Parish was the only one in the River Parishes to issue the declaration, with 46 other parishes doing likewise.

Falgoust reported power outages across the parish from Saturday’s storm, but most customers were back online later in the day with the rest on Sunday.

The exception was Lutcher Elementary School, where utility poles with transformers came down. By Monday, the school was still without power, and Falgoust said he hoped power would be restored Tuesday.

“We had some debris, but no flooding,” Falgoust continued. “We felt the outer bands with tropical storm force winds but we did not get in the hurricane.”

Falgoust also noted that one area of the parish, which historically flooded in such storms, was the South Vacherie area near Lac des Allemands.

A backwater levee system installed by the parish several years ago “worked very well for us,” he said, supplemented with additional pumps.

The system was installed to keep storm water pumped toward the lake from circulating around and washing into low-lying South Vacherie.

Meanwhile, 4,000 National Guard troops are dedicated to Task Force Rita in all areas severely affected by the hurricane, which devastated southwest Louisiana.

The state Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is also working in cooperation with other state and local offices to recover from the effects of Rita across much of Louisiana.