LaPlace Rotary Club welcomes Margaret Orr to discuss flooding

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE – When WDSU-TV Meteorologist Margaret Orr was the guest speaker last week at the LaPlace Rotary Club meeting, it wasn’t surprising to hear where the topic of questions kept heading.

Hurricanes and flooding were the questions Orr heard over and over as she delighted District 6840 attendees with her visit that day.

&#8220St. John was very lucky with Hurricane Katrina,” she said. &#8220If that storm would have gone 20 miles to the west. St. John would have gotten hit hard, and I think you would have seen the West Bank of New Orleans look like the Gulf Coast.”

And to that end, Orr had a word of warning for anyone who lives in Southeast Louisiana.

&#8220No matter what flood zone you live in, you should have flood insurance,” she said. &#8220It is so inexpensive to get, yet I am amazed how many people don’t want to buy it. Flood insurance is THE most important thing you can buy, and people should see that from Katrina, flooding can hit anywhere that you never thought it would.”

Orr explained how easily the properly directed hurricane can push water out of the lake onto an entire region.

&#8220The storm surge can be tremendous,” she said. &#8220There were 50 foot waves from Katrina coming in off the Gulf, so you may think you are high and dry somewhere, but anywhere can flood.”

Orr said that the only times she ever recommended evacuating was for Katrina and for Hurricane George, and she thinks people need to consider leaving if a strong storm will be coming in to their west.

&#8220We just don’t know anymore what our levees can handle,” she said.

Orr is one of the most recognizable faces on New Orleans television, and has been a weather person for many years.

She said she went through a time during her life when she questioned if she should still be doing this, especially since she works so many weekends and holidays away from her family. But a recent incident gave her the answer.

&#8220I have found myself saying ‘what am I supposed to do God?’ But I got an e-mail last year from someone who thanked me for being on the air Thanksgiving Day. They said they were going to commit suicide, but saw me on the air and saw my happy attitude and how good it made him feel, so he changed his mind,” she related. &#8220I knew then that this is what I was supposed to be doing.”

Orr acknowledged that she is concerned about the future of the region with changes occurring in the landscape.

&#8220The water level is rising around here, and the ground continues to sink,” she said. &#8220I honestly think that the future in this area is not great unless something can change some of this. And the River Region will continue to be vulnerable until they get a hurricane levee built.”