TOP LOCAL HEADLINES Archives for 2020-08

Recap of Monday's Hurricane Laura Recovery Efforts

The following has been released to Q93 from the City of Alexandria: 
 

 

Alexandria, La. (August 31, 2020) — City of Alexandria crews, along with more than 150 contractors and utility service personnel from around the country, continued to work to restore electrical power and clear tree debris caused by Hurricane Laura Thursday morning.

 

“We were able to make big gains the first few days in terms of the number of customers with service restored, going from 25 percent of customers to 50 percent, then 69 percent and then 82 percent,” said Alexandria Mayor Jeffrey W. Hall. “We have all of the main circuits restored, and now we are into the more difficult work of restoring feeder lines and taps to individual homes. I understand that five days without power is tough. Everyone wants to be the first one to get their power back and nobody wants to be the last one, but we are dealing with a storm that caused tremendous damage to our system. My heart goes out to every resident who is still without power, and I want you to know we are working as quickly as we can to get your service restored. We are coming. I appreciate your patience and we will get to each of you just as fast as we can.”

 

Utility Director Michael Marcotte said 86 percent of customers have had service restored as of 6 p.m. Monday evening, leaving approximately 3,500still waiting for restoration. “When recovering from an event like this you hit a plateau, where you make big strides in the first few days and then it gets slower as you work to restore the hardest hit areas and address individual homes. So while it took four days to get roughly 80 percent of the customers back on line, it could take just as long to get the last 20 percent restored,” he said. “We have to work from the top down, starting at the substations and then the main lines all the way down to fixing broken poles and transformers in a customer’s back yard. That’s where we are now, working on those individual sites. And when you get to this point, you could have 15 people working an area all day just to restore 20 homes. It’s that time consuming.” 

 

Marcotte said that if a customer notices electricity is restored around them but not at their home they should report the issue to the city call center at 318-473-1301 or in the AlexConnects App. so utility officials can follow up. “There are a number of reasons that can happen, from an issue with the line to something with the customer’s house,” he said. 

 

Marcotte added that residents who have damage to their home’s electrical system will need to contact a licensed electrician to make repairs before the city can reconnect service. “It’s critical that the work is done by a licensed electrician,” he said. “Once that is done, the city will come inspect the work and then we can restore the power.”

 

Regarding the city water system, Hall said a citywide boil advisory remains in effect. “We are also providing free bottled water for residents during this time. We started that Saturday and we will have water available again Tuesday starting at 8 a.m. in the downtown Mini Park across from City Hall.”

 

In addition to utility service work, crews began working to pick up tree debris from residences across the city. Residents are reminded to place their tree waste at the curb for pickup and that piles should only contain tree waste. Other trash, including construction debris like shingles and fence panels, should be piled separately. Also, household garbage collection resumed Monday following the normal pick up schedule. 

 

Repair work continues at the Alexandria Zoo. Workers from the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans as well as the Animal World and Snake Farm in New Braunfels, Texas, and a Zoological Disaster Response, Rescue and Recovery team from Fort Worth, Texas. Due to heavy damage, the Alexandria Zoo remains closed until further notice.

 

Also, the Utility Customer Service Office at 625 Murray Street will be closed for utility payments. Customers may pay by mail, online or by check or money order in the utility drop box.

 

Residents should continue to report power outages and other service requests in the AlexConnects App or by calling the city call center at 318-473-1301. Also continue to watch the city’s Facebook page at City of Alexandria – Government for the latest updates and advisories.

Cleco Restores Power to Over Half of Customers

The following has been released to Q93 from Cleco: 
 

 

PINEVILLE, La. – Aug. 31, 2020 (6 p.m. update) – As of 6 p.m. today, Cleco and contractor crews have restored power to over 87,000, or 62 percent, of the 140,000 customers affected by Hurricane Laura.  


“We’re getting there, and we want our customers to know we appreciate their understanding and patience,” said James Lass, director of distribution operations and emergency management.  “We always focus our efforts on critical infrastructure such as water and sewage systems, hospitals and medical facilities, and then move to the circuits with the largest number of customers until everyone who can receive power has it.”  Below are restoration updates on impacted parishes.  Cleco will report updates on areas as they become available.  For the most up-to-date information, follow the company on Facebook @ClecoPower and visit Cleco’s website at cleco.com.

 

Grant and Rapides parishes

• Cleco currently has nearly 1,300 workers from the total workforce in these two parishes making repairs and restoring power.  To date, Cleco has restored power to 15,200 customers across these two parishes. 

• Alexandria: Approximately 2,700 customers are without power.  Crews are working to restore power to roughly 500 customers today, leaving around 2,200 customers without power overnight.  

• Deville, Buckeye and Holloway: Approximately 1,590 customers are without power.  Crews are working torestore power to roughly 390 customers today, leaving 1,200 customers without power overnight.  

• Pineville, Esler Field, Kingsville, Kolin, Ruby and Paradise: Approximately 12,850 customers are without power. Crews are working to restore power to 2,850 customers today, leaving 10,000 customers without power overnight.  

• Gardner, Boyce and Hot Wells: Approximately 2,754 customers are without power.  Crews are working to restore power to 254 customers by end of day today, leaving 2,500 customers without power overnight

• Flatwoods, Mora, Pine Coupee: Approximately 350 customers are without power.  Crews are working to restore power to 50 customers by end of day today, leaving 300 customers without power overnight.  

• Martco, Lena, Sharp and Taylor Hill: Approximately 520 customers are without power.  Crews are working to restore power to 20 customers by end of day today, leaving 500 customers without power overnight.

• Otis, Hineston and Elmer: Approximately 1,500 customers are without power.  Crews are working to restore power to 100 of these customers by end of daytoday, leaving 1,400 customers without power overnight. 

• Bentley, Colfax and Dry Prong: Approximately 3,800 customers are without power.  Crews are working to restore power to 300 of these customers by end of day today, leaving 3,500 customers without power overnight

• Pollock: Approximately 2,600 customers are without power.  Crews are working to restore power to 200 of these customers by end of day today, leaving 2,400 customers without power overnight.   

• Forest Hill: Crews are working but due to extensive damage, restoration in this area will be a multiday event.  

• Glenmora: Additional resources arrived in Glenmora today.  As such, restoration is expected to take three to four days instead of five to seven days, as projected yesterday. 
 

DeSoto, Natchitoches, Red River and Sabine parishes

• Campti: Power was not restored last night as planned.  Crews continue to work in this town and expect to have power restored today.

• Clarence:  Crews are working and expect most customers in this town to have power by tonight.  

• Pelican: Town has significant damage.  Crews are working to restore power today.

• Converse, Lake Area:  Town has significant damage.  Crews are working and expect to restore power to some customers today, but not all.  Work will continue until all customers have power.

• Toledo Town: Crews are making good progress and expect a few customers in this town to have power today.

 

Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu and Vernon parishes

• Rosepine, Leesville, DeRidder and Dequincy:  These areas are heavily damaged.  Crews are working and additional resources are being allocated.  While crews will be working from daylight until dark, this could be amultiweek restoration project.   

• Oakdale: Power to critical infrastructure has been restored, including the Federal Detention Center, hospital and nursing home.  Power also has been restored to some residential and business customers, but this could be a multiweek restoration project.   

• Kinder: Crews are working and making progress, but there is a lot of damage.  This could be a multiweek restoration project.  

• Elizabeth: Cleco secured additional resources today and will be sending these resources to assist with restoration efforts which is expected to take three to five days.

Oberlin: All customers who can receive power have it.

Acadia, Avoyelles, Evangeline and St. Landry parishes

• Crews are working to restore power to the remaining 25 customers in Ville Platte, Crowley and Eunice.  Power may be restored to all 25 customers today, but crews will work until all customer have power.  

• As power to customers in these parishes is restored, crews are being moved to other impacted Cleco areas.  
 

Below are customer outages by parish as of 6 p.m. 
Acadia – 10

Allen – 4,832

Avoyelles – 932

Beauregard – 5,122

Calcasieu – 2,461

Catahoula - 18

Desoto – 467

Evangeline – 571

Grant – 6,000

Iberia – 9

Jefferson Davis - 39 

Lasalle - 15

Natchitoches - 583

Rapides – 22,910
Red River – 24

Sabine – 3,066

St. Landry – 33

Vernon – 5,685

Update from City of Pineville

The following has been released to Q93 from the City of Pineville: 

 

 

As a new work week commences we are grateful that Pineville residents are pulling together to help one another as we recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Laura.

 

“Pineville is accustomed to being a place of refuge for those impacted by hurricanes but this time we are the ones being impacted,” said Pineville Mayor Clarence Fields. “We’ve seen tremendous efforts by our public works crews and public safety employees to maintain city services and keep our citizens safe. We’re especially thankful for Cleco and their many supporting contractors from 16 other states who are restoring power to our region, including roughly half our city. As we move forward into this recovery let us continue to work together until all of our citizens are fully restored.”

 

Pineville Public Works Director Charlie Moore confirmed that 9 of our 10 water wells have electrical service, either through Cleco or specialized generators and our water system is not in danger of losing pressure due to lack of power. “We are still under a boil advisory until further notice,” said Moore. “We urge citizens to boil drinking water or use bottled water for consumption.”

 

On Saturday the City of Pineville distributed roughly half of the 1,500 cases of water that were donated by Plastipak Packaging, with another distribution being planned shortly. We have also secured 44,000 pounds of ice that are being transported to Pineville today for a distribution to be announced shortly.

 

“Unfortunately, the sewer system is still somewhat limited due to power only being available to roughly 1/3 of our 80+ sewer lift stations,” said Moore. “We do appreciate the citizens’ efforts to reduce impact on the sewer system as much as possible.” If you are aware of a sewer backup please send a message to the City of Pineville, LA Facebook page as phone service is not fully restored.

 

Garbage (household waste) and trash (yard debris) services are back on their regular service schedules, but some areas may not be able to be serviced due to inaccessibility by our large trucks. We urge citizens to NOT mix household waste or construction debris with yard waste as these materials go to different landfills.

 

Pineville Chief of Staff Rich Dupree announced that in partnership with the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce and Proctor & Gamble FREE laundry services will soon be available at Washland Laundromat, 2651 Hwy 28E for residents still without power. He also shared that Proctor & Gamble has donated additional bottles of water to be distributed and Atmos is providing additional ice to be distributed throughout the city. “We are grateful for these corporate partners that recognize the immense need around us and step forward with their unique contributions to help others in time of need,” said Dupree. “We look forward to announcing these additional distribution details soon and encourage residents to watch our Facebook page for details.”

 

Please note that City Hall is closed to the public until Wednesday, September 2. In addition, our phone service is not fully restored. Citizens can contact the city through our Facebook page. Residents or businesses who need assistance can contact FEMA at 1-800-621-3362

 

“In trying times like these we must pull together as a city and as individuals to help one another,” said Mayor Fields. “But it’s also in times like these that we see the best in one another. I’m especially proud of our City of Pineville employees, many of whom have gone without sleep, without power, and who have put off taking care of their own homes in order to serve our citizens. And that truly makes me #PinevilleProud!”

 

Please continue to follow the City of Pineville Facebook page for up to the minute announcements and updates.

LifeShare Declares Emergency Blood Need Following Laura

The following has been released to Q93 from LifeShare: 
 

August 30th, 2020 – Imagine waiting years on a transplant list for the organ that could save your life knowing that for most – that lifesaving gift never comes. Then one day,the phone call that changes everything – the liver you’ve been waiting and praying for is available. 

 

That’s the story of one Louisiana patient this weekend. However, what should have been a happy moment turned uncertain for surgeons as LifeShare was unable to provide the blood needed for the surgery. Fortunately, surgeons were able to go ahead with the operation, as LifeShare worked to relocate blood products.

 

“Hospitals are being forced to make tough decisions right now that could impact the outcome for their patients,” said LifeShare Sr. Director of Blood Operations Benjamin Prijatel. “Since Thursday, LifeShare has collected 393 units of red blood cells. That’s 26% of the blood LifeShare needs to support the transplants, traumas, and other treatments requiring a blood transfusion at our local hospitals.”

 

For more than a week, LifeShare has been reaching out to other blood centers for help, but because of the nationwide blood shortage, only a few blood centers were able to provide minimal assistance. 

 

LifeShare is operating on extended hours at all of its donor centers. All donor centers will be open this week Monday-Friday from 8am-6pm and on Saturday from 8am-3pm. Several mobile drives will also be operating. All mobile locations can be found at LifeShare.org or on the LifeShare app. The donor center in Lake Charles remains closed as the facility is still without water and electricity. 

 

This appeal is going out to everyone, but LifeShare is trying to focus on young donors. “This is a time of year when we would typically be in our high schools and colleges. Because of COVID-19, many of these blood drives are canceled or are yielding far fewer donors than usual. Most people don’t recognize that nearly one-quarter of the blood supply comes from teenagers. Young people are the backbone of the local blood supply,” says Prijatel. LifeShare is asking young people to please donate blood.  Also, if you’re a parent, coach, teacher, or other influencer, please get the word out about this critical need.

 

Businesses and churches that want to help are urged to call LifeShare and schedule a blood drive. LifeShare has been taking extra safety precautions since the outbreak of COVID-19. Thus far, there are no reports of a LifeShare team member or LifeShare donor contracting the virus from interacting with each other during the donation process. Donating blood is as safe as it ever has been.

 

LifeShare doesn’t use the word “emergency” very often. The last emergency appeal was issued more than 15 months ago.  

Hurricane Laura Storm Restoration Update

The following has been released to Q93 from Cleco: 
 

PINEVILLE, La. – Aug. 31, 2020 – As of 8:45 a.m. today, power has been restored to over 81,000 customers, or 58 percent, of the 140,000 customers affected by Hurricane Laura, one of the most powerful storms to hit Louisiana since 1856.

 

Below are customer outages by parish as of 8:45 a.m. 
Acadia – 19

Allen – 5,812

Avoyelles – 1,261

Beauregard – 5,122

Calcasieu – 2,461

Catahoula - 18

Desoto – 466

Evangeline – 504

Grant – 6,859

Iberia – 8

Jefferson Davis - 39 

Lasalle - 15

Natchitoches - 646

Rapides – 25,781
Red River – 25

Sabine – 2,998

St. Landry – 31

Vernon – 5,685

 

For additional information on Cleco’s storm restoration efforts, follow the company on Facebook @ClecoPower or visit Cleco’s Storm Center page at cleco.com/storm-center.  

Recap of Sunday's Hurricane Laura Recovery Efforts

The following has been released to Q93 from the City of Alexandria:


Alexandria, La. (August 30, 2020) — Sunday marked the fourth day of recovery efforts as City of Alexandria crews, aided by crews from Florida, Missouri and other locations, continued working to restore utility services and clean up damage caused by Hurricane Laura Thursday morning.

 

“It’s been a grueling four days,” said Alexandria Mayor Jeffrey W. Hall. “I think we’re finally starting to turn the corner. We have all of the main utility circuits back online, roughly 82 percent of our electric customers have serviceand our water system is nearing a full recovery. My heart goes out to those residents who are still without power, and I want you to know we are working as quickly as we can to get your service restored. Laura dealt a devastating blow to our distribution system, but I assure you we won’t stop working until every line is repaired and services are fully restored to everyone who can take power.”

 

Utility Director Michael Marcotte confirmed that all 57 of the city’s main electrical circuits are restored, restoring service to more than 20,000 customers and leaving roughly 4,600 still waiting for restoration. “We have the main corridors restored and now we are working to address issues with smaller circuits and lines that serve parts of streets and individual homes,” he said. “Residents who are still without power should report the issue to our call center at 318-473-1301 or in the AlexConnects App and we will continue to work each incident on a case-by-case basis.”

 

Marcotte added that a citywide boil advisory remains in effect. “Water pressure has improved and the system has stabilized, but for now residents need to continue to boil water before drinking,” Marcotte said.

 

Recapping recovery efforts to date, crews began work as soon as Hurricane Laura passed through the city Thursday morning. By the end of day one the city had restored the main transmission lines coming into the city and restored power to 6,600 customers, about 25 percent of the roughly 25,000 total. The city also worked to restore power to the city’s 16 water distribution pumps.

 

On Friday, issues developed with the city water supply as water pressure dropped and a citywide boil advisory was issued. Power was restored to 9 of the 16 pumps by 5 p.m. and the remaining pumps were brought back online overnight. Crews made significant progress removing downed trees and restoring service to critical facilities including hospitals and nursing homes. By the end of the day power was restored to 50 percent of electric consumers, or roughly 12,700 customers, 

 

Restoration work continued Saturday with a focus on stabilizing the water supply system and restoring power to the main electric circuits serving the city. By the end of the day Saturday the water pressure improved and the water system stabilized. A total of 53 of the city’s 57 main electrical circuits were restored and 69 percent of electric consumers, or 17,200 customers had their electric service restored. The city also provided free packages of bottled water to residents as well as setting up two charging stations for those without power to charge cell phones and electronic equipment.

 

Work continued Sunday to restore electrical service, maintain the stability of the water system and continue the cleanup and removal of tree debris. Free water distribution continued at the Alexander Fulton Mini Park and at the former Central Louisiana Technical Community College (CLTCC) campus on South MacArthur Drive.

Looking ahead, regular trash collection will resume Monday. Collection of residential tree waste will also begin next week. Residents are reminded to separate tree waste from other trash, including construction debris, and place the tree waste at the curb or in a common public area for collection.

 

All city offices will be open as usual and the ATRANS bus service will run as scheduled. The Alexandria Zoo, which was heavily damaged by the storm, will remain closed until further notice.

 

Residents should continue to report power outages and other service requests in the AlexConnects App or by calling the city call center at 318-473-1301. Also continue to watch the city’s Facebook page at City of Alexandria – Government for the latest updates and advisories.

Power Restored to 56 Percent of Cleco Customers

The following has been released to Q93 from Cleco: 


PINEVILLE, La. – Aug. 30, 2020 (6:30 p.m. update) – As of 6 p.m. today, Cleco and contractor crews have restored power to over 78,000 of the 140,000 customers affected by Hurricane Laura after it made landfall in southwest Louisiana Thursday.  


Cleco offers the tips below to help keep customers safe before and after power is restored.

“We also want to remind customers that their electricity may not be turned back on due to structural damage or damage to electrical equipment on their side of the meter,” said James Lass, director of distribution operations and emergency management.  “Cleco will reconnect the electricity after a licensed electrician has made the necessary repairs and the proper authorization is received.”


What to do before and after power is restored:

• Check your property for damage.  When walking through storm damage, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and sturdy shoes. 

• Make sure the water is safe to drink.  Call local authorities or listen to news outlets for boil advisories.

• Keep refrigerators and freezers closed.

• Unplug appliances and electronic devices when the power is out (air conditioning units, refrigerators, computers, laptops, televisions, etc.)

• Operate portable generators in a well-ventilated area, never run a generator indoors, and plug appliances directly into generators with grounded extension cords that can handle the load.  Don't plug a generator cord directly into a wall outlet.  A generator can back feed electricity through your electric wiring to the entire Cleco circuit. This can cause injury or even death to a worker attempting to repair that circuit and anyone else who comes in contact with power lines. 

• If water is rising near your home or business, turn off electricity at the main breaker. Evacuate and do not return until waters have completely receded.  Wait until the water recedes and have an electrician check the building's wiring before using the electricity.

 

For the most up-to-date information, follow the companyon Facebook @ClecoPower and visit Cleco’s website at cleco.com.

 

Customer outages by parish as of 6 p.m. 
Acadia – 36

Allen – 5,917

Avoyelles – 1,448

Beauregard – 5,122

Calcasieu – 2,461

Catahoula - 18

Desoto – 476

Evangeline – 893

Grant – 7,157

Iberia – 7

Jefferson Davis - 39 

Lasalle - 15

Natchitoches - 602

Rapides – 27,737
Red River – 27

Sabine – 3,896

St. Landry – 33

Vernon – 5,685

Burn Ban Issued for Rapides Parish

The following was released to Q93 from the Rapides Parish Police Jury:

 

Hurricane Laura has caused extensive damage to our water systems throughout the Parish resulting in low water pressure and a reduced ability to fight fires. 

 

Pursuant to the emergency authority granted under the emergency declarations by the Governor and the Parish Police Jury, in the interest of public safety and to protect the lives and property of our citizens, I do hereby issue the following ban: 

 

         SETTING FIRE TO AND/OR
         BURNING OF ANY DEBRIS 
         OR OTHER MATERIALS IS
         PROHIBITED WITHIN THE
         PARISH OF RAPIDES, OUTSIDE
         OF MUNICIPAL BOUNDARIES, 
         FROM 11 A.M. ON AUGUST 30,
         2020, THROUGH 11 A.M. ON
         11:00 A.M. ON SEPTEMBER 4,
         2020.  

 

Your Police Jury and other elected officials are working very hard for our citizens to restore essential services and quality of life to Rapides Parish as soon as possible. 
 

God Bless each of you and your family. 

 

Craig Smith
RPPJ President

Recap of Saturday Hurricane Laura Recovery Efforts

The following was released to Q93 from the City of Alexandria:

 

Alexandria, La. (August 29, 2020) — City of Alexandria crews continued working throughout the day to restore utility services and clean up damage caused by Hurricane Laura.

 

“It was another day of good progress,” said Alexandria Mayor Jeffrey W. Hall. “We still have a lot of work to do. We have neighborhoods like Martin Park and Airview Terrace that are still in the dark. I want the residents in those areas, and everyone who is still without power to know we are coming. Some areas were hit harder than others in terms of damage to the infrastructure. But we are working to get everyone restored as quickly as possible. We appreciate your patience. I know it’s hard, and please know we won’t stop working until we have everyone back in service.”

 

As of 6 p.m., 17,200 Alexandria customers had electric power restored, which is 69 percent of the city’s approximately 25,000 electric customers. “We have restored service to the hospitals, nursing homes and water wells,” said Utility Director Michael Marcotte, noting 53 of the city’s 57 circuits are back online. “The main corridors will be restored tomorrow and then we can focus attention on lines serving parts of streets and individual homes.”

 

Regarding water service, Marcotte said we have restored the system to acceptable pressure, but the entire City of Alexandria remains under a boil advisory until further notice. “If residents will continue to conserve water and only use what is essential over the weekend, we believe we can keep the system stabilized,” Hall said.

 

To assist residents with their water needs, the city started distributing free packages of bottled water Saturday evening at the Alexander Fulton Mini Park. The city received two truckloads of water Saturday and more water is expected Sunday. Water distribution will resume at 8 a.m. Sunday in the mini park, located on Murray Street across from City Hall. There is a limit of two 24-bottle packages per vehicle.

 

Also, to help residents without electricity, the city opened two charging stations, one at the Bolton Avenue Community Center and one at the Youth & Teen Center on Sylvester Street. Both charging stations will be open again Sunday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Facemasks are required and only one person per household should enter due to COVID-19 restrictions.

 

Sanitation and Street Department crews also continued working to clear downed trees and other debris throughout the city. Crews will be back out Sunday to continue cleanup efforts. The city call center will be staffed from 7 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. at 318-473-1301 for residents to report outages and storm damage. Residents may also use the AlexConnects App to report service needs.

Boil Advisory Issued for City of Alexandria

The entire City of Alexandria is under a boil advisory. The city is also asking residents to conserve water and use as little as possible until repairs are completed at the water pump stations. 
 

The following is a joint statement that Q93 received from the City of Alexandria and the leadership of CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital and Rapides Regional Medical Center:

 

"Alexandria Mayor Jeffrey W, Hall, in conjunction with Rapides Regional Medical Center CEO Jason Cobb and CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital CEO Chris Karam, urges all Alexandria residents to limit their use of water until electric power can be fully restored to the water system pumps. The drop in water pressure from high use is causing critical challenges at both medical facilities. Thank you for your help as we get through this together Alexandria."

Free Cell Phone Charging Station for Alexandria Residents

Q93 has learned that The City of Alexandria is offering free cell phone recharging station for Alexandria residents from noon to 4 p.m. today (8/29) at the Bolton Avenue Community Center, located at 315 Bolton Ave. Face masks are required and ID to show Alexandria residence. One family member per household to limit the number of people due to COVID-19 distancing.

 

UPDATE: In addition to the Bolton Avenue Community Center, a second charging station is set up at the Youth and Teen Center, located at 1801 Sylvester Street today (8/29) and will be open from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

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