Monday’s historic rainfall and flooding throughout Lake Charles and Calcasieu Parish was the third-highest daily event on record, dating back to the mid-1800s, officials said at a press conference Tuesday. Some areas got as much as 16-18 inches of rainfall over six hours, forcing law enforcement to get hundreds of residents out of their water-soaked homes and leaving flooded cars stranded along street curbs.
Anywhere from 4-6 inches of rain is expected in the area through Thursday, said Andy Patrick, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles. Smaller pockets of the Southwest Louisiana region may see double that amount, he said.
Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso estimated 300-500 displaced residents were picked up Monday. There were roughly 400 service calls. Law enforcement worked until 11 p.m. Monday to get residents out of their water-logged homes. No deaths were reported from the flooding.
Mancuso expects Monday’s flood will end up impacting hundreds, possibly thousands, of structures parishwide. Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said more structures within the city will be impacted by the flood than Hurricanes Laura and Delta combined.
“I wish I knew what to say to our citizens right now to give them some encouragement because they’ve been through so much the last year,” Mancuso said. “Just hang in there. We’re going to get through this together.”
Mancuso thanked Trinity Baptist Church for taking in more than 380 residents impacted by the flooding. More than 100 people were still there as of Tuesday morning.
Because the rainfall came on so fast, many public facilities that Calcasieu Parish normally uses for shelter weren’t available, Parish Administrator Bryan Beam said. He credited faith-based and non-governmental agencies for offering shelter to impacted residents.
Burton Coliseum took in water from the flood, Dane Bolin, parish assistant administrator, said.
Hunter again pleaded with Congress to pass a disaster supplemental relief package. Southwest Louisiana continues to wait for assistance, more than eight months after the Category 4 devastated it last August. Hunter said the assistance would not have prevented Monday’s flooding, but it serves as a “wake up call” on how much the area is struggling.
“There are people in this community that are suffering and that need help,” he said. “We are not sitting on our hands … but there is a finite amount of financial capital in this community.”
Dick Gremillion, Calcasieu Office of Emergency Preparedness director, encouraged residents to report any flooding damage online at damage.la.gov. Gremillion said this is important because the number of flooded homes without flood insurance will be part of the determination of an emergency declaration. As of Tuesday, a federal emergency had not been declared.
Gremillion said the Calcasieu River is closed to recreational traffic from the Saltwater barrier, heading north. It remains open to commercial traffic. Mancuso said flooding issues may arise at the Sabine River, but he added there is no immediate danger.
Owners of stalled vehicles are responsible for retrieving them, Mancuso said. Cars blocking any roadways will be towed by local law enforcement, he said.
Beam said it will take multiple years to clean debris from Hurricane Laura out of parish drainage laterals.
“You get this many disaster events back to back, there is just no human way to fix that problem that is bigger than anything we’ve ever seen,” he said.
Police Jury President Brian Abshire said residents impacted by the flood should verify licenses and insurance with any contractors they hire. They should call the Better Business Bureau at 478-6253 for more assistance.
Sulphur Mayor Mike Danahay said the city lent its high-water vehicle to the Sheriff’s Office to aid with getting residents out of flooded homes. Students and a principal at F.K. White Middle School in Lake Charles were picked up Monday evening.
Sulphur did not experience the level of flooding that Lake Charles did, Danahay said. Employees are working to clean drain basins throughout the city, he said.
Roughly 2,600 Entergy Louisiana customers were without power at the peak of the flood, but that had dropped to 230 customers as of Tuesday morning.
Tonight’s Calcasieu Planning and Zoning board meeting and Thursday’s Calcasieu Police Jury meeting are canceled and will be rescheduled next week, Beam said.
Those needing emergency assistance should call 911 or 211 for volunteer assistance.
The United Way of Southwest Louisiana has a fund open for those wanting to donate to flood victims. Text “disasterfund” to 41444 or visit unitedwayswla.org/donate.
Written by Donna Price