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Parish President reflects on Barry preparation

LAPLACE — Parish President Natalie Robottom expressed gratitude to the residents who helped neighbors and heeded storm warnings, as well as the St. John Parish employees who worked through the weekend to keep the public safe from Hurricane Barry impacts.

“We’re grateful that we didn’t get what was projected,” Robottom said. “Barry did give us an opportunity though to do a trial run. Some of our employees are new to the role, so it was a good first chance for them to get their feet wet. I think we’re ready. We’re confident that we can control the things that we control.”

Standing water was seen on Peavine Road in LaPlace Sunday afternoon. Bec’s at the Lake Restaurant and Catering and Frenier Landing closed for the storm due to rising lake levels.

There were eight sandbag locations dispersed throughout the Parish, according to Robottom. Most were self-serve, while the Captain G. Bourgeois location offered pre-filled sandbags for the elderly and disabled.

Parish officials monitored lake levels through a camera monitoring system and saw Lake Pontchartrain rise to just under 4 ½ feet on Friday before receding Saturday.

Lake levels typically do not present a flooding hazard below six feet, Robottom said.

Peavine Road and portions of the Old U.S. 51 low road were the only areas that flooded due to wind pushing water in from the lake, Robottom said.

By Monday, some of the receding water had started pooling in canals and retention ponds.

“The water has to go somewhere,” Robottom said. “It’s not a big concern at this time. Had we gotten the 10, 15 or 20 inches of rain with the surge, that might have been a problem for us.”

Five temporary pumps were provided to St. John Parish in case of flooding. Generator power was also used during the storm in areas of LaPlace near the St. John Parish Animal Shelter.


The St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office and a St. John Parish response team surveys a tree in the roadway Friday afternoon near Highway 628 in LaPlace. (photo credit: Trent Mallard)

“About 1,000 customers were out of power in different areas of the parish,” Robottom said. “By Sunday, that number was down to 175. Entergy was just waiting for the wind to stop blowing for them to make the other repairs.”

Once the Emergency Operations Center is activated, Robottom said Parish administration meets with the Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority, the Department of Transportation, the National Guard, State Police, the St. John Sheriff’s Office, the State Fire Marshal’s Office and Acadian Ambulance.

Officials check in on area emergency rooms, as well as Twin Oaks Nursing Home and the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home to make sure vulnerable populations are prepared.

Robottom is pleased with the public response.

“There weren’t a lot of cars on the road,” Robottom. “The stores did actually close down for the safety of the employees and residents. We did find our residents were pretty much responsive.”

Residents can sign up for St. John Parish emergency alerts by visiting sjbparish.com and clicking “stay connected.”