CADDO PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Sheriff Steve Prator, director of Caddo Parish Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, held a briefing early Wednesday afternoon on local preparations for Hurricane Laura, which is expected to bring significant severe weather to the ArkLaTex.
“This is a major Category 4 hurricane that’s gonna be hitting our coast and coming straight to here,” Prator said during the briefing, which was held after a meeting of the Unified Command Group for Caddo Parish.
With winds and rain expected to pick up in the area as early as 7 a.m. Thursday, some potentially in excess of 50 mph, Prator warned that the threat from the storm is serious. He also urged citizens to only use 911 in cases of emergency and to use 211 for non-emergency issues.
“If it’s a medical emergency, if a tree falls on your house, if you see a car wreck, if an electrical line’s down, call 911. But if you happen to be out of electricity and not know what to do or if you need a place to stay, call 211 and they will get in touch with who needs to be to provide that particular service.”
Prator said the parish Emergency Operations Center is set to open at 6 p.m. Wednesday and continue at least 24 hours, depending on the amount of damage the storm brings. That will include members of the Shreveport police and fire departments, rural fire districts, city and parish officials, the National Weather Service, representatives of the Louisiana National Guard, and the sheriff’s office.
Mayor Adrian Perkins said the city has already given out 22,000 sandbags, and that they have extended the hours for picking them up through to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
City offices and facilities will be shut down Thursday. Emergency and essential personnel will be working, and police and fire will have additional staff on hand.
Perkins also said the Shreveport Regional Airport will remain in contact with the FAA and DOTD, and that it will operate as an emergency hub if necessary.
Officials also urged everyone to take in their trash bins and any other items that can be blown around in the wind.
Shreveport Fire Chief Scott Wolverton said high water rescue vehicles are prepped and ready to go when it is deemed necessary. He warned residents that first responders will be limited during high winds.
“Let me say one more thing, as it relates to the tropical storm winds and potential hurricane force winds which are anything 74 miles per hour or greater it makes it difficult to have emergency response. 50 plus mile per hour winds or a gust of 65 mile per hour winds, FEMA recommends emergency response to cease until those pass through, then start making your response again. So during that time frame it may be difficult to make responses just so our crews stay safe, our trucks stay safe. Even something happens to them or the trucks we won’t be able to make the emergency response afterwards,” Wolverton said.
Hurricane Laura continues to strengthen in the Gulf of Mexico. Maximum sustained winds have increased to 140 mph. Laura is now a category 4 hurricane and is expected to produce storm surges over SW LA of 20 feet. The National Hurricane Center indicates that a surge of this magnitude is not survivable. It’s also possible that the surge could advance some 30 miles into SW Louisiana.
Hurricane Laura is already bringing a few scattered showers onshore, so we will see off and on thunderstorm activity in the ArkLaTex during the daylight hours Wednesday. The most significant impacts will occur late tonight and throughout the day Thursday. Due to Laura’s size, hurricane and tropical-storm-force winds are expected to extend far from the eye, bringing a significant threat for severe weather across the entire ArkLaTex.
“It’s one of those things, that if it can possible wait until the wind subsides for the safety of our first responders, and if you’re safety is not endangered. Those are the kinds of decisions we’re going to have to make. But I’ve never known us not to respond in Caddo Parish or Shreveport, Louisiana to a 911 call,” Prator said.
The slideshow below shows the latest possible impacts as well as watches and warnings associated with Laura.
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Power outages are starting to occur all across the ArkLaTex due to Hurricane Laura.
According to PowerOutage.us, more than 260,000 in Louisiana were without power by 3 a.m., with the most being in Cameron Parish.
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Hurricane Laura made landfall on the Louisiana coast Thursday morning as a Category 4 storm and weakened slightly to Category 3 status as it moved northward over southwestern Louisiana.
The National Hurricane Center says the storm is bringing catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds and flash flooding to portions of Louisiana this morning.
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