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Still in the thick of it: Hurricane Ida’s wind, storm surge remain primary concerns

LAPLACE  — St. John the Baptist Parish is experiencing 80 mph hurricane force winds with stronger gusts as the eye wall of Hurricane Ida pushes through the River Parishes.

St. John Parish President Jaclyn Hotard said she is primarily concerned with storm surge and the amount of rain the parish will experience over a short period of time.

Water is beginning to rise in lower lying areas. However, it is difficult to compare the situation to Hurricane Isaac, which flooded portions of St. John Parish exactly nine years ago.

The National Hurricane Center projected a storm surge of 5 to 8 feet for Lake Pontchartrain and 4 to 6 feet for Lake Maurepas.

Current storm surge impacts are coming primarily from Lake Pontchartrain.

“With Isaac, we actually had a forecast for a storm surge that was higher than the forecast for Ida,” Hotard said. “However, we do see lakes coming up, and we have an extensive amount of rain. The winds were not in our favor, so it’s blowing a lot of the water into the parish. Someone said earlier that every storm has its own fingerprint, and Ida is no different. Many of the indexes we would normally use didn’t really match a previous storm.”

She added, “Everything is still very fluid right now. We’re still right in the thick of it in St. John.”

The Emergency Operations Center has received reports from residents who are watching shingles blow off their roof and water creep into their houses.

“Get into a safe place into the home, whether it is in an interior bathroom or a closet, and hang on until these winds are safe for us to go out and do a damage assessment,” Hotard said.

Hurricane Ida is currently a Category 3 storm with 120 mph winds moving northwest at 10 miles per hour.

More than 19,000 Entergy customers are without power in St. John Parish at this time.

Hotard reminded residents that efforts to restore power or any other services can’t begin until weather conditions improve.