(The Livingston Parish News) – Local first responders are helping those affected by the wrath of Hurricane Laura.
Deputies from the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office left town Thursday morning to make the 160-mile drive to Allen Parish, which Sheriff Jason Ard said is in a “total blackout” following Laura’s landfall in the early morning hours.
Around 20 LPSO deputies left for Allen Parish, located to the north of Calcasieu and Cameron parishes, the two parishes hit hardest by Laura. According to Ard, Allen Parish Sheriff Doug Hebert made the request for extra patrol vehicles given the number of residences and businesses without power and the “limited manpower” he has to spare.
“I’ve been in the situation of a blackout, and just having the presence of more law enforcement with these businesses… and residents out of power [is important],” Ard said. “It’s kind of scary. So the more people you can get out to help the residents and local sheriff, [the better].”
The deputies are slated to stay for five days, though that could change in the rapidly evolving situation. Though the deputies are there to provide an extra law enforcement presence, Ard said his office “will do whatever they ask.”
“If they need us to cut trees down, that’s what we’ll do,” Ard said. “We’ve been here and done that and know what it’s like to need that help. So we’re going to be prepared to do whatever we need to do. If they need more, we’ll do more.”
Hurricane Laura made landfall with the southwest Louisiana coast as a Category 4 storm in the early morning hours Thursday. Pictures of the storm show gutted buildings, ripped-off roofs, and areas in standing water.
Laura weakened to a tropical storm a little after noon Thursday, Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a press conference. Laura was about 65 miles northeast of Shreveport at 1 p.m., with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. The tropical storm warning along the Gulf coast has been discontinued.
Though the damage was less than what was initially expected, mostly regarding storm surge, Edwards said Laura still brought significant damage to southwest Louisiana and that the storm has already claimed the lives of four people, including a 14-year-old. First responders were also battling a chemical fire in the Westlake/Moss Bluff/Sulphur area.
“There is still a lot of work to do,” Edwards said.
Locally, Ard said Livingston Parish “fared well” from the storm, saying there wasn’t much more than some “minor power outages” and a few downed trees. The worst situation involved first responders rescuing a family from a tree that fell on their house. All left uninjured.
“We’ve been very blessed,” Ard said. “There’s a lot of people west of us just getting hammered right now. Now that we know we’re safe, we’re gonna try to do what we can to help everybody else.”
Ard said sheriffs across the state stay in constant communication during natural disasters in case one needs assistance. He added that the extra communication helped his office in recovery efforts following the August 2016 flood.
“You gotta have that communication,” Ard said. “If it wasn’t for my fellow sheriffs [in 2016] we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what we did in Livingston Parish. We have to work together, so it gives me great honor to send deputies to help a fellow sheriff.”
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