Entergy on track for goal of power by today

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – After over a week in the dark following the wind and rain bombardment from Hurricane Gustav, the power is coming back on and things are slowly starting to return to normal in St. John Parish as residents and businesses recover from the worst storm to hit the area since Hurricane Katrina.

By Tuesday, officials from Entergy estimated that roughly 500 customers in the parish were still without power, but the expectation is that everyone will be turned back on by today pending any unforeseen weather events.

With electricity becoming less of a concern as the days wear on, parish officials say work crews can now move the focus to debris cleanup, which is wide spread across all neighborhoods in St. John.

“We got much more green debris than we did during Katrina,” said St. John Public Information Officer Buddy Boe, referring to the amount of trees, branches and leaves down throughout the area. “Gustav was a 30 hour wind event, where Katrina only lasted about eight hours. The wind just kept pounding the trees.”

Boe said the parish entered into contracts pre-Gustav for crews to come in to help with debris removal. He said initial assessments show damage was minor for the most part, but wide spread all across the parish. He said no neighborhood saw any serious amount of harm.

“The parish has 14 crews with huge dump trucks coming in to help us clear all debris as quickly as possible,” said Boe. “They will be out in full force all across the parish starting at 7 a.m. Tuesday.”

The parish is asking that residents begin sorting their refuse and storm wreckage into three separate piles for pick up – one for tree debris, one for construction debris, and one for damaged or defective appliances. Do not place any debris in drainage ditches or canals.

“If they just get it organized it can be taken away faster,” said Boe. “We just ask for a little bit of patience, it should be all cleared within the next week or two.”

Boe advised that a burn ban is still in affect parish wide, and residents should not attempt to set fire to any of their tree debris in an attempt to get rid of it because there is too much of it around. A small fire has the potential to get out of control quickly, and anyone caught burning debris will be issued a citation.

“We just don’t want to put any more strain on our police and fire crews,” said Boe. “We are going to get it all picked up.”

Separate from the debris removal is regular garbage collection, which is back onto its regular schedule but still a few days behind because of heavier loads. Residents should continue wheeling regular trash to the curb for pick up on normal trash days.

With the power coming back on line, the St. John sewer system will become less of a concern, but Boe said the entire system is still very strained. He said 20 pumper trucks are still being called out to lift stations to drain out wastewater.

“We are asking that residents continue to limit water use until all power has been restored,” Boe said. “I think everyone knows we are working around the clock to get this issue resolved.”

Despite the strained sewage system, Boe said parish tap water is completely safe to drink.

Boe said most parish offices got back to work Monday, with the exception of parish courts. He said all three sections are slated to re-open Thursday morning, but just about all of the cases are being postponed. He said residents should call the clerk of court at 985-497-3331 to see when or if new dates have been set.

In addition to parish business, most local business, including grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and other retail outlets, have also re-opened their doors. A complete list of open businesses can be found at the St. John Parish web site www.sjbparish.com.

Boe said River Parishes Hospital is open to all services, but the St. John Animal Shelter and post office remain closed and no date has been set for their re-opening.