Jefferson Parish: Canals pumped out ahead of Barry's tropical downpours, emergency officials readying for heavy rain

Chris Miller
July 11, 2019 - 12:33 pm

With Tropical Storm Barry predicted to make landfall as a Category 1 hurricane just west of Morgan City in two days, officials in the New Orleans area have been announcing their preparations. Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni has declared a state of emergency.

"Mandatory evacuations have been issued for lower-lying Lafitte, Crown Point, Barataria, as well as Jean Lafitte effective at 2 p.m. today," said Yenni.

Grand Isle began a mandatory evacuation at noon.

"We have cleaned more than 20,000 catch basins," said Yenni. "With 189 pumps within our system, all pumps were operational with the exception of one single turbine at the Elmwood pump station."

Yenni said it would be a few more weeks before that one is operational, but he noted there are nine other pumps at that station.

Yenni cautioned that for all of their preparations, there will always be something that comes up that wasn't predicted.

"We have one of the best standard operating procedures in the region," Yenni said, "but in my 21 years of public service, I have never seen a standard operating storm."

Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta warned that as prepared as Entergy can be for a storm, some people will lose power.

"People have to understand that systems do have failure points, there will be outages in some areas," Skrmetta said. "Because of a minimal hurricane, outages in some case could be out a couple of days."

Skrmetta noted that line workers can't use their cherry-pickers until winds subside to safe levels.

A lot of people will be firing up portable generators if they lose power during Barry, and officials don't want anyone getting hurt.

Jefferson Parish fire chief Dave Tibbetts says they are ready to deal with Tropical Storm Barry's effects, but what they worry most about is largely up to individuals:

"Our big concern is generator safety," said Tibbetts. "Please think about what you're doing with those generators."

Of course they should never be used indoors, but Tibbetts says people need to realize portable generators should be ten feet from any structure attached to the house... even left under a carport or overhang, a generator could be dangerous.

Tibbetts said whole-home generators that have been professionally installed should have been installed according to code, and therefore do not need to meet the same 10-foot requirement.

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