Friday, September 30

Cowboys football headed for Hammond

By Gary Laney
American Press

McNeese State's displaced fall sports teams have found homes at various sites.

The Cowboys football team will practice and stay at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond until they are able to return to the Lake Charles campus, athletics director Sonny Watkins said Friday.

Also at SLU will be the Cowgirls' soccer team. The volleyball and tennis teams will stay and practice at Louisiana-Lafayette.

"We appreciate the effort these schools are making for us," athletics director Sonny Watkins said.

McNeese's fall teams were left without a livable campus and with damaged facilities after Hurricane Rita ripped through Lake Charles early on the morning of Sept. 24.

Watkins said that while these teams will stay and practice at other schools, they will not attend class. McNeese has a goal of re-opening the campus and completing its fall semester, Watkins said.

"They won't be going to class," he said.

The football team will report to Hammond Monday and begin practicing Tuesday, athletics spokesman Louis Bonnette said.

Watkins also said that while the football team will practice at Hammond, it won't necessarily play home games there. The Cowboys don't have another home game scheduled until Oct. 15, their Southland Conference opener against Stephen F. Austin.

"There are a few places we might play that," he said. "But probably not Hammond."

Cowboy Stadium will probably not be an option, at least for the SFA game. McNeese's home field suffered significant damage to light poles and its press box and the field, located below ground level in an embanked area, is filled with 3-4 feet of murky water.

McNeese has had three home games cancelled this season, two because of Rita and one after Hurricane Katrina compelled Southern to call off the Sept. 3 season opener at Lake Charles. Northwestern Oklahoma State was scheduled to be in Lake Charles Sept. 24, the day of the storm. Southern Utah was scheduled to be in Lake Charles Saturday.

McNeese and SLC rival Lamar, which does not play football, both took direct hits from Rita, a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

As a result, the Southland has lost 13 conference volleyball games, one conference soccer game, eight football games and two cross country meets with SLC participants.

The SLC took the following actions Friday to deal with the storm's aftermath:
-- In volleyball, the conference will not reschedule the canceled league matches.The regular season champion will be determined by conference win percentage.
-- Athletic directors agreed to improvise to schedule "home" matches for Lamar and McNeese, both currently without homes.
-- The league volleyball tournament, scheduled for Nov. 18-20 in Arlington, Texas,will be expanded from six teams to the top eight regular-season finishers. While the conference has taken steps to address the problem in volleyball, there are issues in football.

Unless McNeese fills its current Oct. 8 open date, it will finish with eight games played. The NCAA requires seven wins against Division I-AA opponents for a team to get an at-large berth to the NCAA playoffs.

Unless that rule is waived in regards to McNeese, the 1-1 Cowboys could not possibly earn an at-large berth. A 6-0 conference record would give them the required wins, but they would have the automatic berth anyway. Any loss in coference would leave McNeese with no more than six wins.

Jeff Davis schools want students back Oct. 10


JENNINGS — Jeff Davis Parish school officials say students will return to classes on Oct. 10, a week from Monday.

Schools in Jeff Davis Parish will remain closed next week to allow for cleanup. Some schools are also being used to house out-of-state National Guard troops and utility crews dispatched to the area to help with recovery efforts following Hurricane Rita.

Superintendent of School Tommy Smith said all 12-month employees, assistant principals and principals are to report to their assigned work sites on Monday, Oct. 3, to begin cleanup of facilities.

Students will not return to school until the following Monday on Oct. 10, which had previously been scheduled for a teacher in-service day. Smith said the in-service day has been canceled and buses will run.

Any students or employees with extreme circumstances which would prevent them from returning to school or work should contact the school’s principal, he said.

Smith said many of the schools will not be able to reopen next week because of damage. He said every school has received some type of damage ranging from minor roof problems to flooded floors.

Local schools are also serving as staging areas for National Guard troops and electrical crews working to restore power in the area.

More than 800 troops and electrical crews are being housed at schools in Welsh and Jennings. Cafeteria tables and chairs from Ward Elementary School are also being used at a staging area at the Jennings Airport.

Downtown Lake Charles gets power

A major milestone in the effort to restore Lake Charles was reached last night, when some lights in the downtown area blinked back to life. City Hall, court buildings and other downtown buildings able to take power have been restored.

This was made possible by the restoration of the Chlomal substation east of Lake Charles and the Ann and East Broad substations west of the city. These substations are part of a 69-kilovolt loop that encircles Lake Charles. The substations also serve public works, emergency and other governmental facilities. Crews continue to work on restoring other substations along the loop as well.

Crews were also successful in restoring the substation serving the RS CoGen plant southwest of the city.

The outlook for the Nelson Plant in Westlake continues to improve. The plant is currently generating approximately 135 megawatts. Crews continue to work on restoring a 500-kilovolt line that connects the Nelson Plant to Richard, a 500-kilovolt switching station north of Crowley.

The estimated restoration date has been moved up several days to Monday, October 3. The restoration of this line will help with load issues around the Lake Charles area.

Seeking CHRISTUS employees

CHRISTUS Health, one of the largest Catholic health care systems in the U.S. with operations in several regions of Texas and Louisiana located directly in the path of Hurricane Rita, is asking an estimated 5000 employees who were displaced by the storm to please call the CHRISTUS Associate Disaster Resource Line at 1-866-683-2070.

DeQuincy health workers to be paid

DEQUINCY — All DeQuincy Memorial Hospital and DeQuincy Home Health employees will be paid on Thursday, Oct. 6. Employees will be paid the same amount as the previous pay period due to the fact computers are down and time can not be computed accurately. The differences will be worked out at a later date.

Checks will be deposited in your Sabine State Bank account. The hospital is asking that all hospital and home health employees contact their department heads. If employees have not contacted their department head, they can call (337) 786-1200.

Mail service resumes in DeRidder


DERIDDER — When U.S. Postal Service trucks cranked up Tuesday and carriers drove their regular routes, DeRidder postmaster Mack Courvelle said a sense of normalcy returned to the area.

"You always see the mail carriers," he said. "It's a normal function."

Courvelle has been driving to the Lafayette area, dropping off mail and purchasing fuel for his carriers.

He said finding fuel has been the difficult task in delivering residents' mail. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Courvelle bought over $400 of fuel on both days and returned to DeRidder and sold it to his carriers.

"I filled up fuel in five-gallon cans and put them in the back of my truck," he said.

DeRidder is normally serviced from post offices in Lake Charles. Since Hurricane Rita, the DeRidder Post office has been receiving dispatches from Lafayette.

"With Lake Charles being shut down, Lafayette is sending us a dispatch every morning and they take back whatever mail we have at that time with them," Courvelle said. "Our alternative is to get it to Lafayette or even Leesville and they get it to Alexandria, which in turn, will get it in the mail stream."

DeRidder has been assisting the rural post offices of Pitkin, Merryville, Grant, Elizabeth, Singer, Dry Creek and Sugartown, which are operating. Postal workers from those offices pick up their mail in DeRidder and drop off outgoing mail.

The only post office that received considerable damage, according to Courvelle, was the Singer Post Office, which lost its roof.

The post office now operates out of the local branch of Singer's satellite branch of the Beauregard Parish Library, on La. 27.

Courvelle said restoring mail service to Calcasieu and Cameron parishes will be difficult.

"They are working now and trying to get them their SSI-type checks and they are making points available for that," he said.

Courvelle has been impressed with postal employees, who he called "upbeat."

"I think when everybody showed up for work on Tuesday and we had power and air-conditioning, I've never seen so many people happy to be at work," he said.

According to information released by the U.S. Postal Service, customers unable to receive delivery at their permanent address due to Hurricanes Rita or Katrina are being asked to file a change-of-address. The quickest and easiest way is to do this
electronically by going to or by calling (800) ASK-USPS ((800) 275-8777).

Hurricane victims in areas without telephone or Internet service should go to the nearest post office, complete a change-of-address form, and submit to a postal retail associate at the counter or mail it - it's postage free.

Time for 256th Brigade return announced

The correct return time for all members of the 256th Brigade Combat Team released on pass, either from Fort Polk or from their initial return from Iraq, is Sunday, Oct. 2, at 4 p.m., according to Lt. Taysha Deaton, a 256th Brigade public affairs officer.

"Look and leave" in Calcasieu


Thousands of Calcasieu Parish residents are home today to inspect their property, clean up their yards, and - officials hope - go back by day’s end to where they were staying.

At 10 a.m. today, Sept. 30, parish officials will kick off the “look-and-leave” phase of the post-hurricane Calcasieu ComeBack program.

Full electrical power isn’t expected to be restored in the area for a few weeks, and services are lacking as a result. Despite that, elected officials are still not confident that everyone who comes to look will indeed leave.

Calcasieu ComeBack was hammered out in a closed-door meeting Thursday among the parish’s six mayors and Calcasieu Parish Police Jury President Hal McMillin.

McMillin said residents who visit should not bring their children — and should keep their hotel reservations.

“We would like for them to come in and assess the situation and leave as soon as possible. When they get here they are going to see what we have been through the last few days. There is a lot of devastation. A lot of streets have been cleared. It looks a lot better,” he said.

“Electricity will continue to remain a central issue for the next 14 to 20 days," said Calcasieu Parish Administrator Mark McMurry said. "Hopefully that could be a little bit better. It could be little bit worst. There won’t be an exactness to that we can give anyone right now.”

McMurry said the date when the second phase of the plan called the “Calcasieu Comeback” will be implemented hasn’t been announced yet.

A publicity campaign aimed at those returning today for the look-and-leave visit will be conducted through brochures and with a telephone number residents can call for information, 721-3840.

Lake Charles doesn’t have potable water, but Sulphur and Westlake do.

Citizens returning to the parish must be prepared to be self-sufficient, with their own food and water, parish officials said. They also must stay off the streets at night and have access to cash, as credit card usage will be difficult. Elderly residents, children and other special-needs citizens are strongly urged not to return during the first phase, officials said.

Residents will be asked to return to their temporary lodging locations at their own discretion and wait to permanently re-enter at a later, undetermined date.

Informational checkpoints are at the Interstate 10 exits in Iowa, at Highway 171 in Lake Charles, at Enterprise Boulevard in Lake Charles, in Westlake, at La. 108 in Sulphur, at Beglis Parkway in Sulphur, at Ruth Street in Sulphur and at Exit No. 7 in Vinton.

Local officials are asking for cooperation with and observance of the following rules and statements:

  • Residents are entering the parish at their own risk.
  • There is a strictly enforced parish-wide curfew from 7 The curfew means that people cannot be outside, either on foot or in a vehicle, during this time. Make sure to carry identification at all times.
  • There is no temporary housing during the visit. Make sure to have temporary “home away from home” arrangements secured.
  • E-911 is working, but is NOT an information line.
  • Police and fire services are limited.
  • Traffic lights are not functioning. Every intersection in the parish is officially a four-way stop. An accident endangers the lives of everyone involved, as the parish's ability to respond and care for people is very limited.
  • Medical services are extremely limited during this period. The parish cannot handle critical care patients, special-needs people, or young children.
  • Conditions are inappropriate and generally unsafe for the elderly, ill, and young children. There is no elderly day care, child day care, or schools.
  • Pharmacies are not open, so make certain to bring needed medications.
  • There is no access to respirators, oxygen or ventilators.
  • Sewer, water, and electricity are generally not available. Conserve and restrict use of all of these services if they’re available. Portable toilets are not widely available.
  • Water in Lake Charles is not potable, meaning it cannot be drunk. Don’t use it to brush teeth; however, it is safe for bathing. Such water must be boiled before being used for cooking.
  • Food and water will not be provided during the visitation period. Bring enough food, water, medical supplies, medicines, and gasoline to be self-sufficient. Each incidence of a visiting resident needing assistance is going to prolong the recovery.
  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not cook inside with fuel-burning camp stoves or charcoal grills – they will kill you.
  • Gasoline for your personal vehicles is limited. A few gas stations may be open, but be prepared to pay in cash and be patient in long lines.
  • Expect roads to be barricaded for power restoration. Do not endanger the lives of the power lines crews by attempting to cross the barricade.
  • Expect road closures and major traffic congestion.
  • Be very careful on re-entering homes, especially if there are trees leaning against or on the roof. Use good judgment. Do not call for any public service assistance.
  • Garbage removal is a problem. If at all possible, bag household garbage in heavy trash bags and leave the parish with it.
  • Do not burn any trash or garbage.

  • Animal rescues in Lake Charles

    Hurricane Rita evacuees who left pets behind in Lake Charles in the evacuation can contact the Calcasieu Parish Animal Control or Animal Rescue to check on their pets.

    The Lake Charles Police Department has been receiving a lot of phone calls from evacuees who want police to check on their pets.

    However, the proper agency to call is Calcasieu Parish Animal Control or Animal Rescue.

    Animal Control can be contacted at (337) 437-3347, and Animal Rescue at (838) 568-5557.

    Thursday, September 29

    Calcasieu school employees' pay available


    Calcasieu Parish School System employees who do not have direct deposit to their banks may pick up their paychecks from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, Sept. 30, at the ticket booth of the Barbe High School football stadium on 2200 W. McNeese St.

    Direct deposit checks will be in bank accounts on the regular schedule, according to Charlene Chiasson, the board's public information officer.

    School board employees must have a picture ID when they pick up their checks. For security reasons, personnel cannot release checks to anyone but the employee whose name is on the check. No one will be allowed to pick up a check for someone else.
    Employees who do not use direct deposit and who are unable to pick up their checks today may have the school system deposit them at certain banks, or they may be mailed.

    Details are on the board's Web site at

    Superintendent Jude Theriot told employees in a letter that they are still employed, so there is no need to apply for unemployment benefits.

    Theriot said while the decision of whether to reenroll Calcasieu Parish schools is up to parents, it is not necessary because a plan for a modified school year will be developed to give students a full year's credit.

    In an emergency session, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education decided that while LEAP, Iowa and Graduate Exit Exam tests will be given this spring, the fourth and eighth grade LEAP tests will not be high stakes - passing will not be required for advancement into the fifth and ninth grades. However, passing the GEE will still be required to graduate.

    Students due to graduate this spring will still be able to receive Louisiana diplomas, no matter where they finish the year, state Superintendent Cecil Picard said.

    Red Cross covers hotel rooms for evacuees

    The American Red Cross has added Southwest Louisiana zip codes to the program that covers hotel rooms for Hurricane Rita evacuees.

    The Red Cross Special Transient Accommodations and Assistance Program previously covered only Katrina evacuees. New zip codes were added Wednesday to the program’s Web site:

    The site says evacuees who need assistance with lodging should mention the program to hotel managers, who can bill the rooms to the Red Cross through the Internet. The hotel payment process is administrated by the private housing firm Corporate Lodging Consultants.

    CNN reported on its Web site that the Lake Charles zip code 70615 was inadvertently omitted from the list of qualifying zip codes.

    The zip code was added to the list Wednesday after a Georgia hotel owner notified the Red Cross of the mistake, CNN reported.

    Jeremy Harper
    Staff Writer

    Louisiana residents get by in Northeast Texas


    DALLAS – For those who know they don’t have a home to go back to, the unknown is almost too much to handle, but at least they have a place to lay their heads and people to help and watch over them.

    An estimated 350,000 hurricane evacuees from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are sheltered in northeast Texas, according to state authorities. Shelter officials with the Salvation Army, Red Cross and church organizations are keeping a close eye on supplies that are running thin.

    Evacuees like David and Christine Goodness, of Stingray Drive in Lake Charles, appreciate all the food, hot water, bedding and acts of kindness that have been provided to them in Marshall, Texas.

    “We live in Country Pines subdivision and a man told us it is no more,” David, an Isle of Capri employee, said. “But that’s what we expected from the storm.”

    Christine, who worked at a storage business in Lake Charles that may or may not be standing, worries about money and employment, but she knows that things could be worse.

    “I never thought we would have ever been in a shelter. But this is 100 times better than what we saw at the Louisiana Superdome. There’s decent food here and a decent place to sleep. We have nothing to complain about,” she said.

    All the Goodness’ have to worry about is the two of them -- unlike the 41 members of the Galmore family who are from north Lake Charles.

    They left last Thursday, hours before Hurricane Rita made landfall.

    “We got to Texas on Friday. We went to Many first, but at the First Pentecostal Church, they kicked us out because the lights were going out. As we left, the lights came back on but we still had to leave as the bad weather was coming in. God was with us on the road,” said Ronald Galmore, who lives on Colletta Street.

    The Galmore clan ended up splitting up and spreading to shelters and homes in Fort Worth and Dallas.

    As a group, they have found open arms at the Salvation Army office in Arlington, a block from Texas-Arlington University.

    Shelia Galmore, of Elaine Street, knows her home is still standing, but suffered wind and tree damage.

    “It’s all horrible. My heart went out to the people from New Orleans. We in Lake Charles stepped out and opened our hearts and arms and gave them everything we had after Hurricane Katrina,” she said.

    She thinks the same support wasn’t shown to Lake Charles evacuees of Hurricane Rita.

    “In Leesville, we slept outside. A police officer took us to a church, but they had no room. In Shreveport there were no shelters and they asked us to go to Minden. We had to call a phone number and find the shelter at a Kroger’s. At least the woman at the store helped us. Then we ended up with six other numbers but got tired calling so we went to Texas, where our family is,” she said.

    High emotions caused by stress, lack of sleep and hunger made life unpleasant for the Galmore clan.

    “We are a big family. You will never find us arguing or fussing, but I have to say the devil got in and we started fighting among each other,” Galmore said.

    At the moment, the in-fighting has stopped among the Galmores, and like the Goodnesses, they are counting down the days down when they can go home and contend with whatever inconveniences await them there.
    “At least we have our family,” Sheila Galmore said.

    Crews energizing lines, substations near Lake Charles

    Power crews are making progress in the effort to restore power to Lake Charles, Entergy said. More lines and substations in the outlying area being re-energized.

    This approach will allow power to be imported into the Lake Charles area from other areas while work continues on restoring Entergy’s damaged Nelson Plant in Westlake, the company said.

    The company said the following milestones were reached Wednesday and Thursday:

    • A 230-kilovolt line connecting the Nelson Plant with Cleco’s Cooper Plant (north of Calcasieu Parish) was energized.

    • Crews energized a 230-kilovolt line running from the Nelson Plant to the Solac substation. The Solac substation is located on the southwest corner of a 69-kilovolt loop that encircles Lake Charles.

    • A 69-kilovolt line from the Klondike substation (located in northeast Cameron Parish) to Entergy’s Meaux substation in Vermillion Parish, south of Lafayette, was energized. This has brought many more customers online.

    Work is continuing on a 500-kilovolt transmission line from Richard (a 500-kilovolt switching station north of Crowley) to the Nelson Plant that is crucial and will help with loading issues.

    Progress is also being made in restoring the 69-kilovolt loop that encircles Lake Charles.

    Crews are also currently focusing on repairing the Ann and Contraband substations, which serve emergency, police, medical, waterworks and governmental facilities in Lake Charles.

    Calcasieu reentry plan: "look and leave"

    Calcasieu Parish officials and the mayors of the six municipalities in the parish announced a phased reentry plan Thursday for parish residents evacuated for Hurricane Rita, the worst disaster in parish history.

    The plan is split into two phases: Calcasieu Visit and Calcasieu Comeback.

    Calcasieu Visit is a “Look and Leave” period that will permit residents to re-enter the parish, assess the damage to their homes, gather important belongings and then return to safer and more secure locations outside the hurricane-damaged area. This phase will begin Friday, Sept. 30 during daylight hours.

    Citizens returning to the parish must be prepared to be self-sufficient, with their own food and water, parish officials said. They also must stay off the streets at night and must have access to cash, as credit card usage will be difficult.

    Elderly residents, children and other special needs citizens are strongly urged not to return during the first phase, officials said.

    Residents will be asked to return to their temporary lodging locations at their own discretion to permanently re-enter in Calcasieu Comeback at a date yet to be determined.

    Returning residents are urged to call a re-entry information line at 337-721-3840, which will list informational checkpoints at the following Interstate-10 exits: I-10 in Iowa, I-10 at Highway 171 in Lake Charles, I-210 at Enterprise Boulevard in Lake Charles, I-10 in Westlake, I-10 at La. 108 in Sulphur, I-10 at Beglis Parkway in Sulphur, I-10 at Ruth street in Sulphur and I-10 at Exit No. 7 in Vinton.

    American Press resumes printing; blog will go on

    The American Press resumed publication today with a free, 12-page limited-circulation edition.

    It is being printed out-of-town and placed in selected high-traffic dropoff points in our readership area.

    This blog, and the American Press’ emergency site,, will continue.

    The print edition of the paper is being printed via special arrangement with The Daily Advertiser of Lafayette.

    An American Press crew is producing the paper at a temporary news bureau in the Advertiser’s conference room, printing it at noon and trucking it in the afternoon to various locations in Southwest Louisiana.

    There also will be editions Friday and Sunday. There will be no Saturday edition. The future publication schedule has not been determined.

    American Press reporters and photographers continue to cover the news throughout the area, with bureau chiefs and editors working in Lafayette, Jennings and DeRidder.

    The American Press building on U.S. 90 is being repaired for roof holes and is still without power. For that reason, the advertising, classified, accounting and circulation departments remain closed. Their operations, and home delivery of the American Press, will resume as power and access permit. The regular Web site,, also is down.

    The Beauregard News Bureau (462-1213) and Jeff Davis Bureau (821-5309) are open and staffed.

    Readers are invited to post news, photos and comments here or send them to special e-mail address,

    Display advertising questions may be directed to the Louisiana Press Association in Baton Rouge, (225) 344-9309, which is handling insertion orders and billing until the American Press business office reopens.

    Brett Downer

    Questions from readers

    Here are a few questions we've received in the last day or so. Any readers able to offer information can add it in this post's comments, or contact the poster directly.

    • UPDATE: Rebecca Hanberry wants to get in touch with her cousin, Wiley Cooley. Wiley is an electrician at PPG, but no one in his family has heard from him in days. Anyone with information concerning Wiley should call Rebecca at (318) 868 0623 or (318) 426 9678
    • Tracy R. Graham would like to know the condition of Dean Street (off W. McNeese), Common Street on Alan
    Road, and Lake Street (off Caroline Street). Updates to the comments and to
    • Anna Powell is looking for any information on Thibodeaux Lane in Lake Charles, off Burton Ln., 1/2 mile from Prien Lake. Please add information to the comments and send it to
    • Grand Lake resident Cindy, resident of the 700 block of Hwy. 384, requests in formation on the area where the road has S curves going toward Sweetlake. Her email address is
    • Debbie Dupin needs information on the Oak Park area and 19th Street. Her email address is
    • Gloria Kennedy asks if there are any guidelines for cleaning tree limbs and other debris from the storm side of the street, and what to do about removing it from private yards. Gloria also wonders if anyone in the Lake Charles area is selling tarpaulin. Gloria's email address is
    • Dee Landreneau, a former Lake Charles resident, wonders if the Sallier Oak survived the storm. Dee can be reached at
    • Bee LeDoux asks if anytone can provide a photo of the N. Claiborne area in Sulpher and the down highlines known to be on the road. Dee's email address is
    • Jodie, at, asks for an update on the situation at Phelps prison, and how well the facility weathered the storm.

    Calcasieu OEP Info 9-29-05

    as of 9:00am

    · Residents are still encouraged not to return to Calcasieu Parish. Officials are working on a re-entry plan. Residents should expect further details on the re-entry no later than Thursday of this week.

    · All state highways in Calcasieu Parish are open. Interstate through-traffic is now on Interstate-10. Interstate 210 is closed to through traffic and is accessible only by checkpoints. People traveling within the parish should avoid using the interstate system.
    The office of emergency preparedness urges all residents currently in Calcasieu Parish to use safety when driving on the roadways. All residents are asked to stop at all intersections. Each intersection should be treated as a four way stop sign. Many drivers are speeding through an intersection putting other drivers at risk.

    · The City of Lake Charles has established drop-off locations for household garbage (no storm debris or limbs) at the following locations:

    MLK Center -2009 Simmons
    Reynaud Middle School –745 Shattuck
    TH Watkins Elementary –2501 7th Avenue
    Barbe Elementary –Penn St.
    LaGrange HS -3420 Louisiana Ave
    FK White Middle School –1000 East McNeese
    Barbe High School –2200 West McNeese

    · Parish President Hal McMillin has issued a parish-wide burning ban. This ban includes all municipalities as well as unincorporated areas.

    · The Environmental Health Department of The Louisiana Office of Public Health has determined that Sulphur City water is safe to drink.

    · A curfew still remains in effect from dusk till dawn parish-wide

    · Primary Supply Distribution Sites:
    Lake Charles
    -Civic Center

    -Climatrol Building (old Wal Mart) Cities Service Highway.

    Moss Bluff
    -Old Wal Mart

    Secondary sites

    -Phelps Correctional Center

    -Vinton elementary
    -Iowa High School
    Residents will be given MREs, water, and ice. We are working this with both military and FEMA sources. We ask that residents please be patient with supplies. People living in outlying areas with a vehicle should go to three primary sites. If they are unable to drive there, they should contact their local fire department. Local fire departments will travel to distribution sites to get commodities.

    · Residents outside of parish that are currently displaced are encouraged to look to the following websites for information: (information is limited at this time)

    · The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has closed all waterways in Calcasieu and Cameron parishes to all vessel traffic other than approved commercial and emergency traffic.

    · American Red Cross announces feeding sites today in Calcasieu and Beauregard parishes. The following locations are:
    Lake Charles: LC Civic Center, capable of feeding 10,000
    Sulphur: First Baptist of Maplewood, capable of feeding 5,000
    Deridder: Dollar General store, feeding 1,200
    South Beauregard Electric, feeding 1,200
    Merryville football stadium 1,200
    · The American Red Cross is not giving out vouchers to contractors interested in performing work in Calcasieu Parish. This is not a service the Red Cross provides.
    · City officials are asking residents of Lake Charles to conserve their water usage. Water and sewer facilities are limited at this time. As previously mentioned, all water should be boiled and treated before consumption.

    · Salvation Army announces Canteen Locations throughout Calcasieu Parish beginning today (9/29):
    Iowa: Lawrence Toups Park
    Singer: Singer Baptist Church
    Starks: Starks Mini-Mart
    Vinton: Vinton Elementary
    Hackberry: Hackberry Community Center
    Moss Bluff: New Wal-Mart
    Kaplan: American Legion
    Westlake: Community Center
    Lake Charles: Family Dollar on 171
    DeQuincy: Nichols Shopping Center
    LeBleu Chevron @ Hwy. 3059

    The Salvation Army is scouting locations in Cameron for a canteen

    Tom Hoefer
    Calcasieu Parish

    City Savings Banks open in DeRidder, Leesville

    City Savings Bank is now open in DeRidder on North Pine Street and in Leesville, according to Pam Doucet of the O'Carroll Group.

    Riding out the storm in Jennings


    JENNINGS — Crystal Dickinson and her husband, Shane, didn't think things were going to be too bad as they hunkered down for Hurricane Rita in their North Church Street home in Jennings.

    She'd slept through Hurricane Lili three years ago and stayed behind for Hurricane Andrew before that.

    "I thought we'd be all right because we were far enough from the danger zone," Dickinson said. "I thought it would be similar to Hurricane Lili and I napped through that one."

    She tried to sleep through this one, too and thought she'd be safe on the floor. She didn't realize the seriousness of it until just before the storm hit.

    "About a minute before the first strong gusts of wind hit, my dog got up and came laid next to me and put her head on my chest...I knew it was time to hold on," she said.

    That's when the sounds hit.

    "If thunder could scream at you that would be the sound I heard," she said describing the loud roar she heard outside.

    The roar was followed by sounds of transformers blowing which Dickinson said sounded like "large guns" and the sounds of trees crashing around her.

    "I'm 33 year old, but might as well have been 10 years old because I just wanted to talk to my mom," she said.

    Dickinson spent much of the night trying to contact her mother by telephone, but was unsuccessful. She didn't calm down until the next day when she knew her mother was safe.

    "Hurricane Lili and Andrew didn't put an impression on me, like this one," she said. "Next time I am going to pack up my husband, my dog and my cat and we're gone."

    Dickinson was surprised to find moderate damage to her home when she stepped outside the next morning.

    "I thought things would be worse," she said. "I expected to see water rolling down the roads."

    Dickinson said most of the damage around her home was caused by a 200-pound branch falling on a power line.

    Photos of McNeese, Lake Charles

    Photo Album
    A reader asked to submit his online photo album to this blog. The album has several photos of Hurricane Rita's damage to the McNeese campus and elsewhere in Lake Charles. Click the adjacent photo to open a new window and go to his album.

    Wednesday, September 28

    Entergy making progress in Lake Charles

    Hurricane Rita knocked out every transmission line into Calcasieu Parish, leaving the city of Lake Charles in the dark.

    Entergy is taking a strategic approach to re-energize Lake Charles by methodically restoring lines and substations in the outlying areas. This approach will allow power to be imported into the Lake Charles area from Richard (a 500-kilovolt switching station north of Crowley) as crews continue to work to bring the Nelson Plant in Westlake back online.

    Crews have been making steady progress in accomplishing this. Transmission lines from Richard to Bayou Cove (a substation northeast of Jennings) and Bayou Cove to Jennings have been re-energized, as has a 138-kilovolt line from Bayou Cove to Lake Charles.
    Work is also continuing on a 500-kilovolt transmission line from Richard to the Nelson Plant that is crucial to re-starting the plant. That work involves completely rebuilding a number of transmission towers destroyed by Hurricane Rita.

    Crews are working on restoring load to major industrial customers. A 230-kilovolt line from Verdine to PPG was re-energized Wednesday.

    Crews are also currently focusing on repairing the Ann substation, which will restore power to emergency, medical and governmental facilities in Lake Charles.

    Rita's impact on Cameron schools

    On behalf of members of the Cameron Parish School Board, superintendent Doug Chance announces the following information for Cameron Parish residents and all school employees as a result of Hurricane Rita.

    1. All students will have the opportunity to complete the 2005-2006 school year as Cameron Parish students;

    2. The school calendar will be adjusted as needed due to the “Hurricane Rita” disruption;

    3. Bus transportation will be expanded to accommodate the temporary housing locations for Cameron students (out of parish as necessary and appropriate);

    4. Employees are being considered fully employed with benefits since the school year will be completed;

    5. The 2005-2006 school year will be continued with multiple schools in session at locations in Grand Lake and Hackberry as soon as safety and electrical service issues are resolved;

    6. Plans are being structured to conduct 2005-2006 graduation and commencement ceremonies for each of the four high schools; i.e., a senior of Grand Lake will be a graduate of Grand Lake; a senior of Hackberry will be a graduate of Hackberry; a senior of Johnson Bayou will be a graduate of Johnson Bayou; and, a senior of South Cameron High School will be a graduate of South Cameron High School; and,

    7. Extra and co-curricula activities and practices will begin as soon as safety and electrical issues are resolved.

    Further announcements will be made to the media and announcements will be posted on the Web site for Cameron Parish Schools at beginning Friday, Sept. 30. Employee e-mail will be available at that time.

    Maritime worker registry

    The Ports Association of Louisiana has created a database for all displaced maritime industry workers to register post-Hurricane Rita.

    Fill in the information of where you evacuated to and everyone will be able to see names and contact information for all employees who register at

    Life improving in JD Parish

    JENNINGS — Life is slowly getting back to normal in Jeff Davis Parish following the wrath of Hurricane Rita.

    Sheriff Ricky Edwards, who also serves as the director of emergency preparedness, said electricity is being restored to many areas and some businesses are reopening. Residents were also returning to area nursing homes and the Southwest Louisiana War Veterans Home.

    "Getting power and seeing some stores and restaurants reopen brings a big sigh of relief," Edwards said. "Jeff Davis Parish is slowly getting back on its feet."

    Edwards said power was restored in much of Jennings overnight. Power in areas outside of Jennings, including Welsh, has still not been fully restored due to major problems with distribution systems.

    Water has also been restored in all areas of the parish. A boil warning remains in effect for the Lake Arthur area.

    Edwards said 85-90 percent of all the parish roads are open and passable, except those remaining under water in low lying area of Lake Arthur, Grand Marais, Bayou Chene and Lacassine Bayou area.

    Clean up efforts are also underway throughout the parish as residents begin clearing their yards and homes of debris. Residents are urged to take limbs, branches and trees to the parish landfill near Welsh.

    A dumpster for household trash, including spoiled meat and other foods, is located in the parking lot behind the Parker's Department store in downtown Jennings. Residents can dump trash from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

    A debris burn site is also being established in Jennings for trees, limbs and branches.

    Jennings Mayor Terry Duhon said the city will also begin picking up debris from the front of residences. Regular trash pick up service is not expected to return until next week.

    Schools will remain closed this week. A decision will be made by Friday concerning plans for reopening.

    The parish courthouse will remain closed until Monday, Oct. 3.

    Jennings City Hall is also closed.

    Dr. Mark Clawson's office at 805 N. State Street is open as a
    clinic. The closest emergency room is in Crowley.

    People outside the area needing information should contact their local fire or police department or the Sheriff's Office at 821-2100.


    Northrop Grumman sending relief to LC

    NEW ORLEANS - Three 53-foot trailer trucks loaded with supplies and equipment departed Northrop Grumman's New Orleans facility on Tuesday to assist the company's Lake Charles facility with Hurricane Rita recovery efforts.

    The trucks containing food, water, ice, generators, compressors, 1,980 gallons of diesel fuel, tarps, acetylene torches, corrugated siding, cleaning supplies and a washer and dryer, are intended to provide relief to company employees in Lake Charles after they took care of Northrop Grumman Ship Systems employees in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

    "This is our way of returning the favor to our fellow Northrop Grumman teammates who have suffered the impact of Hurricane Rita," Woody Oge, the site director at Northrop Grumman's New Orleans facility, said in a statement. "They really came to our aid when we needed it right after Katrina and we're just glad to be able to help them out in their time of need."

    The Integrated Systems sector in Lake Charles transported fuel and water to the New Orleans facility to assist the yard in restoring operations after Katrina. Northrop Grumman is utilizing the emergency-response experience learned from past storms to allow facilities to assist each other in times of need, company officials said.

    The company said it is working with various federal and state agencies to provide temporary housing for displaced employees.

    NC electric crews in SWLA

    DERIDDER - More than 100 line technicians from eight North Carolina co-op systems are working to restore power to parts of Southwest Louisiana.

    The state's electric cooperatives sent line crews to Louisiana this week to assist with power outages caused by Hurricane Rita.

    The North Carolina co-op crews were sent to assist two Louisiana electric cooperatives, which include Beauregard Electric Cooperative in DeRidder and Washington St. Tammany Electric Cooperative in Franklinton.

    Additional line crews will be sent later this week from North Carolina's electric cooperatives.

    The deployment of help is part of a mutual aid agreement shared between the nation's nearly 1,000 electric cooperatives to help one another in times of emergency, such as natural disasters.

    How to get $2,000 per household

    Southwest Louisiana residents who have been displaced by Hurricane Rita can get $2,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency through a special program called Expedited Assistance.

    What is Expedited Assistance?

    $2,000 per household, for disaster-related needs such as transportation, clothing, rental housing, other housing accommodations, and food.

    If approved, the funds will be electronically transferred to your bank account or a check mailed via the US Postal Service.

    The $2,000 is included in the calculation of total benefits for which you may be eligible.

    This amount may cover only a portion of the total assistance that you need. After going through the normal eligibility process you may receive additional payments of assistance.

    Am I eligible for Expedited Assistance?

    You may be eligible if:

    You are a resident impacted by Hurricane Rita from a declared parish/county in Louisiana or Texas, and

    You have been displaced by the hurricane, and

    You do not have the means of identifying damage to your property or are unable to provide immediate documentation.

    How do I get Expedited Assistance?

    Register with FEMA online at

    Or Call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

    Or Call TTY 1-800-462-7585 for people with speech or hearing disabilities.

    How will the money be given to me?

    Funds will be made available by an electronic transfer to put funds directly in your bank account, or a check that can be delivered directly to individuals through the US Postal Service.

    What if I don’t have a bank account?

    Visit a local disaster recovery center and someone will be able to assist you with setting up a bank account.

    School decision could come this week

    Calcasieu Parish officials could decide when or if they will reopen schools after a Thursday meeting between area mayors and school board officials.

    Lake Charles city administrator Paul Rainwater said the meeting will follow the completion of an ongoing assessment of infrastructure damage and other problems around the parish.

    “From there then we’ll make some really tough decisions,” Rainwater said. “What we’re asking for is a little time so we can do an assessment of where our community is at.”

    Jeremy Harper
    Staff Writer

    Port has moderate damage

    Hurricane Rita caused moderate damage to facilities and cargo at the Port of Lake Charles, port officials said. The port could be fully operational in a few days.

    “We’re not heavily damaged,” said Nathan Sukiennik, the port’s director of marketing and trade development. “We’ve lost some of the tin off of the older buildings and, of course, like everyone else, our power lines are down and we’ve lost power.”

    Sukiennik said the storm damaged less than 3 percent of the 40,000 tons of cargo in port.

    “There were some bags that got wet. Some of the lumber got wet,” Sukiennik said.

    Workers have already begun patching buildings and cleaning up debris. A call over local radio for volunteer cleanup workers was so successful a few had to be turned away Tuesday, port officials said.

    The port is also in the process of setting up a Houston accounting office to handle payroll and other financial matters, Sukiennik said.

    Seven port workers rode the storm out in a fortified room in the port’s new automatic bag-loading facility.

    Port employees are asked to call in Friday afternoon for further instructions. The number to call is (337) 263-3542.

    Jeremy Harper
    Staff Writer

    Cleanup under way in Allen Parish

    OBERLIN — Cleanup efforts are under way in Allen Parish after Hurricane Rita.

    Allen Parish's Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director John Richer said Wednesday officials are working to clean roads and restore power.

    More than 2,000 customers remained without power. Some areas may be without power for at least two more weeks, he said.

    In the meantime, Richer is asking that residents be patient and cooperate with officials.

    "We need everyone working together," he said.

    Although there are no official damage estimates available, Richer said preliminary damages could be in excess of $500,000. A flyover of the parish was conducted Wednesday to survey the damage and determine the number of homes damaged and value of losses.

    Richer said the parish is now in the recovery stage.

    "We are trying to make life as easy as possible for everyone," he said.

    He said many areas remain impassable due to downed trees and power lines.

    "There are areas where people can't even get out of their home to go
    pick up supplies or food," he said.

    Crews are working to clear those roads and reopen routes for mail and school buses. All roads should be open by Thursday.

    Food distribution centers have been set up at the Oberlin Civic Center and area fire stations. Volunteers are needed to help at the distribution sites.

    The parish is also serving as a shelter for hundreds of other Louisiana residents who fled Hurricane Rita under mandatory evacuations last week. He said many of those have stopped in Allen Parish trying to get closer to home or have run out of fuel.

    Fuel is still scarce, he said. A limited fuel supply is available for emergency personnel, public works, critical needs and medical purposes.

    Richer is also asking Allen Parish residents to register with FEMA for assistance by calling (800) 621-3362. The parish is expected to be added to the disaster lists, which will make residents eligible for federal assistance.

    Doris Maricle
    American Press

    VA evacuates 100 from LC nursing homes

    PINEVILLE, La. – The Alexandria VA Medical Center (VAMC) led the evacuation of 100 elderly patients from Martin de Porres Community Nursing Home and Chenannault Residential Care Facility, based in Lake Charles, on Sept. 23 to a staging area in Alexandria.

    The patients were moved in anticipation of Hurricane Rita to temporary shelters in Alexandria at Bolton High and Alexandria Senior High Schools.

    The patients, some with mental health needs, are being relocated to sites within the region to ensure that adequate medical and mental health care is provided.

    The Lake Charles patients will be transferred to the Alexandria VAMC or sites in Dallas, Little Rock, Ark., Shreveport and Waco, Texas from Sept. 26-27. The patients will return to their home facilities after damage assessments and necessary repairs are made, and local authorities deem the area safe for their return.

    Families and friends trying to reach these patients should contact the Alexandria VA Medical Center at (800) 375-8387. All VA employees needing assistance may call toll-free at (866) 233-0152. Operators will be available from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. CT daily.

    For further information, please call Jay De Worth, Acting Public Affairs Officer at the Alexandria VA Medical Center, at (800) 375-8387, ext. 2010.

    A breakdown of VA patient transfers:

    Martin dePorres Community Nursing Home

  • 15 patients to Alexandria VA Medical Center
  • 20 patients to Shreveport VA Medical Center
  • 10 patients to Central Arkansas Health Care System
  • 10 patients to the Dallas VA Medical Center

    Chennault Residential Care Facility
  • 23 patients to Central Arkansas Health Care System
  • 32 patients to the Waco VA Medical Center

    Also, today, Sept. 28, approximately 330 nursing home patients from the affected area will be transferred to the Waco and Marlin, Texas, VA Medical Centers. The patients will stay in unused and vacant space at the two VA medical centers, and there is no current timeline as to how long they will stay.

    As stated in today’s Waco Tribune Herald, Federal Emergency Management Administration officials took local VA officials up on their offer to provide space in Waco and Marlin for nearly 330 nursing home patients, said Bruce Gordon, chief executive officer of the Central Texas VA Health Care System. The influx is coming from short-term shelters and private facilities in Arkansas and elsewhere that temporarily housed patients from nursing homes in Houston, Beaumont and Lake Charles.

    “The VA has stepped up and said, ‘Let us take some of these people,'” Gordon said. “There will be a lot of work, but we feel like we can step up and really help.”

  • Lyondell requests employees check in

    Employees at any of Lyondell's affected facilities that have not yet contacted their supervisors should do so immediately, the company said. If a supervisor cannot be reached, or if telephone service is disrupted, Lyondell has established alternative methods for checking in:

  • If possible, call a control room at your facility.
  • Call (888) 457-6118 and provide your name, work location, present location (where you’re calling from), and a telephone number and/or e-mail address where you can be reached.
  • Use your mobile phone to send a text message to and provide your name, work location and a telephone number or location where you can be reached.

    Please remember to update your supervisor or call the toll-free number if your situation changes.

    Employees should notify their human resources representative or send an e-mail to to advise the company of any personal needs or to request assistance from the Lyondell Disaster Relief Fund. They may also complete the online form at

    For more information, please check the Lyondell Web site at There is a section for those affected by Hurricane Rita at

  • 9-28 daily fact sheet from Calcasieu OEP

    As of 5:00pm:

    · Residents are still encouraged not to return to Calcasieu Parish. Officials are working on a re-entry plan. Residents should expect further details on the re-entry no later than Thursday of this week.

    · All state highways in Calcasieu Parish are open. Interstate through-traffic is now on Interstate-10. Interstate 210 is closed to through traffic and is accessible only by checkpoints. People traveling within the parish should avoid using the interstate system.

    · The office of emergency preparedness urges all residents currently in Calcasieu Parish to use safety when driving on the roadways. All residents are asked to stop at all intersections. Each intersection should be treated as a four way stop sign. Many drivers are speeding through an intersection putting other drivers at risk.

    · Parish President Hal McMillin has issued a parish-wide burning ban. This ban includes all municipalities as well as unincorporated areas.

    · A curfew still remains in effect from dusk till dawn parish-wide.

    · The City of Lake Charles has established drop-off locations for household garbage (no storm debris or limbs) at the following locations:

    MLK Center -2009 Simmons
    Reynaud Middle School –745 Shattuck
    TH Watkins Elementary –2501 7th Avenue
    Barbe Elementary –Penn St.
    LaGrange HS -3420 Louisiana Ave
    FK White Middle School –1000 East McNeese
    Barbe High School –2200 West McNeese

    · DOTD has announced a schedule for the Black Bayou Pontoon Bridge to be available for vehicle traffic. The bridge will be in place from sunrise to 10am daily for vehicle traffic. The remainder of the day it will be for marine traffic only.

    · The Environmental Health Department of The Louisiana Office of Public Health has determined that Sulphur City water is safe to drink.

    · Primary Supply Distribution Sites:
    Lake Charles
    -Civic Center

    -Climatrol Building (old Wal Mart) Cities Service Highway.

    Moss Bluff
    -Old Wal Mart

    Secondary sites

    -Phelps Correctional Center

    -Vinton elementary
    -Iowa High School
    Residents will be given MREs, water, and ice. We are working this with both military and FEMA sources. We ask that residents please be patient with supplies. People living in outlying areas with a vehicle should go to three primary sites. If they are unable to drive there, they should contact their local fire department. Local fire departments will travel to distribution sites to get commodities.

    · Residents outside of parish that are currently displaced are encouraged to look to the following websites for information: (information is limited at this time)

    · The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has closed all waterways in Calcasieu and Cameron parishes to all vessel traffic other than approved commercial and emergency traffic.

    · The Salvation Army announces mobile kitchen locations for Wednesday, Sept. 28. Some locations will remain stationary, while others will change daily. Addresses of the following locations have not been given to the OEP at this time. The Salvation Army is prepared to make 14,000 meals today. The following locations are:
    Kaplan, Vinton, 171 Family Dollar (outside of Moss Bluff), Lebleu, DeQuincy, Singer, Starks, Westlake, Iowa, Hackberry.
    Representatives from Salvation Army are traveling to Cameron to scout locations for mobile kitchens. That information should be made available tomorrow (Thursday).
    · American Red Cross announces feeding sites today in Calcasieu and Beauregard parishes. The following locations are:
    Lake Charles: LC Civic Center, capable of feeding 10,000
    Sulphur: First Baptist of Maplewood , capable of feeding 5,000
    Vinton: A site is currently being set up and should be online later today. Location has not been given.
    Deridder: Dollar General store, feeding 1,200
    South Beauregard Electric, feeding 1,200
    Merryville football stadium 1,200
    · The American Red Cross is not giving out vouchers to contractors interested in performing work in Calcasieu Parish. This is not a service the Red Cross provides.
    · City officials are asking residents of Lake Charles to conserve their water usage. Water and sewer facilities are limited at this time. As previously mentioned, all water should be boiled and treated before consumption.

    Tom Hoefer
    Calcasieu Parish

    Photos from Sulphur

    A reader sends us this link to photos taken by Adam Richards from post-Rita Sulphur:

    Tuesday, September 27

    President Bush visits Southwest Louisiana


    President George W. Bush visited Lake Charles Tuesday to get a first-hand glimpse of Hurricane Rita’s destruction and to meet with local and state officials about the government’s response to the disaster.

    Bush viewed the devastation in Cameron and Calcasieu parishes from Marine One before landing at Chennault International Airport just after noon in Air Force One. He then met with area mayors and parish officials for more than an hour.

    “If you look in their eyes, you see people who have been through a lot,” Bush said during a brief statement to the news media following the meeting. “And they’re showing strong leadership, and I admire their stand and the courage they take.”

    Before his 2 p.m. departure, Bush traveled by motorcade to the far end of the sprawling Chennault complex to a view a tent city where dozens of rescue workers from as far as Ohio and Nevada are staying. He stepped out and shook hands with many of the rescue workers, at one point posing for a picture with a woman and her rescue dog.

    Upon his arrival, Bush was greeted by Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach and Lt. Gen. Russel Honore near an airplane hangar, which, like much of Chennault, sustained major damage during the storm.

    “We had a great meeting with the president,” Roach said later. “I was told that we might have 20 minutes with him, I think we had about an hour and 40 minutes.

    “He asked questions. He listened to what we were concerned about.”

    Bush said he understands that evacuees are frustrated because they are barred from returning to their homes. Echoing calls from local officials, he urged residents not to return until basic services could be restored, which local officials have said could be weeks.

    Bush said he cleared the way late Monday night for each family displaced by Rita to receive a $2,000 check -- the same type of expedited assistance victims of Hurricane Katrina received --to ease the financial burden of a long-term evacuation.

    “I understand there’s a lot of frustrations with the people who left this part of the country -- people that are scattered around want to come back and see their homes, and they want to come back to the communities they love,” Bush said. “But it’s very important for them to understand that now is not the time to come back, until they get the utilities up and running and until they can get the sewer systems running and until they get some water people can drink.

    “I heard loud and clear from the parish presidents and the mayors that, you know, people are getting frustrated. And I understand that frustration. But I think it’s very important to listen to the governor and the local folks about the conditions at home. People are working hard to get the utilities up, they’re working hard to get fuel here for people. And this area is going to rebuild and it’s going to grow again.”

    Top federal disaster officials were also in town Tuesday, including acting FEMA director David Paulison and Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen, head of the government’s hurricane relief operations. They participated in a briefing at the E-911 building on Hodges Street.

    Allen said he has assigned a senior FEMA official to work directly from the Lake Charles area with local officials. He said once basic needs are provided for, officials will begin assessing damage to critical infrastructure.

    Paulison praised local officials for their response before and after the hurricane, particularly the successful evacuation of more than 95 percent of the population.

    “They have simply done an outstanding job,” Paulison said. “They’re professional, they did the evacuation properly, they’ve got their act together,” he said. “They don’t cut us any slack at all.”

    Blanco said the response to Rita was an improvement over the widely criticized initial reaction to Katrina in southeast Louisiana and Mississippi.

    “I do want to tell you that some things worked right this time; we learned a lot of lessons from our previous experience with Katrina,” Blanco said. “Our communications network stayed up, all of these folks could continue communicating their needs to us because there was a communications system that was not in place, it was brought in by your people and our people, working together.”

    Paulsen said FEMA has delivered 916,000 pounds of ice, 54,000 gallons of water and 153,000 meals ready-to-eat to Southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas.

    Bush’s meeting with local officials was a roundtable discussion, the local officials said, that included the heads of Cameron and Calcasieu, area mayors, Gov. Kathleen Blanco, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany.

    Calcasieu Parish Police Jury President Hal McMillin said the meeting was relaxed and effective.

    “We have the pipeline open for the recovery of Southwest Louisiana,” McMillin said.

    The Chennault complex sustained heavy damage. Portions of hangars were twisted and huge tendrils of metal roofing draped over the sides of the buildings. Insulation was strewn about throughout the area and two aircraft in a hangar were visibly damaged.

    Northrop Grumman’s Lake Charles site manager, J.J. Blood, who greeted Bush with Roach and Honore, said the damage to his company’s facilities and aircraft is repairable.

    “Actually it probably isn’t as bad as it looks,” Blood said. “We’re looking at several different options in order to become operational and we’re hoping to have all this cleaned up by this weekend.”


    Due to the extreme heat, Secret Service agents wore khaki pants with short-sleeved button-down shirts instead of the usual black suits.

    Bush’s visit was only the second time a sitting president has visited Lake Charles.

    Bush greets disaster workers

    (Lake Charles, LA) United States President George W. Bush shakes the hand of a member of the Nevada Task Force who were assisting the efforts in Southwest Louisiana after Hurricane Rita. (Rick Hickman/American Press)

    Bush visits Lake Charles

    (Lake Charles, LA) From left, United States Army General Honore', Louisiana State Governor Kathleen Blanco and United States President George W. Bush speak to the media during his recent visit to Southwest Louisiana after Hurricane Rita.n (Rick Hickman/American Press)

    Bouncing back

    McNeese State assistant baseball coach Chris Fackler was mowing the field at Cowboy Diamond Tuesday. Afterwords, he raked.

    It didn't matter that the outfield wall was demolished as a result of Hurricane Rita. It didn't matter that the third base dugout had partially crumbled.

    "I couldn't just sit around and do nothing," Fackler said. "It was driving me crazy."

    So he raked the recently cut grass, explaining that if you leave the cut grass on the field, it would kill the grass that's still growing.

    "Some people are negative about this," he said while taking a break from his work. "But we'll bounce back. We'll come back from this."

    For those who have found ways to defy Calcasieu Parish's "lockdown" order and return to assess damage, that's largely been the attitude. While some areas in Southwest Louisiana have been devastated, others seem to largely be spared of damage. In some places, falling trees seem to have gone out of their way to miss property.

    When I was on my way into town for my first visit since Hurricane Rita struck, I was expecting the worst. I had been prepared by a trip to Slidell on the way to the Southern Mississippi-McNeese game. I had been prepared by a trip through the Mississippi Gulf Coast after I took my mother to Florida during the Rita evacuation. I saw things in Mississippi, then Lake Charles, that encouraged me.

    In Mississippi, I saw towns like Biloxi, Gulfport and Long Beach coming back to life. The destruction was still visually evident, overwhelmingly so.

    But businesses were open. People were home. Power was restored. And it was a mere three weeks and change since Katrina unleashed her fury.

    In Lake Charles, I walked into a town where recovery was well under way. On the morning I was there, I saw an army - literally - of recovery workers, including military of all kinds (most notably, and encouragingly, now-celebrity General Russel Honore), law enforcement from across the country, and a parade of electrical workers focused on firing up some nine currently powerless grids.

    It looked like a tough situation, but one well under control. I can imagine that a couple of days ago was Lake Charles's darkest hour. When I was there Tuesday, you could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    The same applies to atheltics.

    Right now, sports in Lake Charles are still at their low point. The beloved McNeese Cowboys football team is homeless, with light poles looking the wrong way and a "Hole" turned into a "Bowl" of water. Facilities all over town and the area are devastated.

    But I see a Chris Fackler mowing grass and things start to change in my mind. There are people around that care about the fate of these teams, and there are people involved with these teams that won't let the ship sink.

    Lake Charles will be back. McNeese will be back. And the sports that are played here will be just fine.

    Gary Laney
    American Press

    McNeese sports looking for a home

    McNeese State athletic director Sonny Watkins said Tuesday that he was looking for a temporary home for Cowboy and Cowgirl sports.

    Watkins was on campus assessing damage. He said he had spoken to athletic directors from Northwestern State and Southeastern Lousiana about the possibility of McNeese teams relocating to those campuses and playing home games at those places until McNeese is ready, but nothing has been settled yet.

    The logistical problems of staying on campus are many. The university may be weeks away from full utility service. There is damage to Cowboy Stadium, and FEMA was turning the A.I. Ratliff Practice Fields into a tent city for the recovery effort.

    McNeese has already lost three games - all home games - to hurricanes this season. Prior to this season, there had never been a cancelled game in school history.

    Gary Laney
    American Press

    Damaged athletic facilities at MSU, high schools

    I had a chance to see athletic facilities around Lake Charles Tuesday. Damage to McNeese State facilities varied. Damage to high school football fields I saw was extensive.

    Cowboy Stadium had two heavily damaged light standards. The northwest standard tilted back toward the track, and the southeast standard tilted north. (I erroneously reported yesterday that the northwest pole tilted toward the field.)

    The press box had damage, but appeared functionally intact. The field has standing water and may need to be pumped electronically. The softball field looked ok and fences were knocked down at the tennis courts. Burton Coliseum looked fine and was being used as a staging ground for military, law enforcement and electrical workers. The baseball field's outfield wall was completely decimated and the third base dugout was partially collapsed.

    At LaGrange's Mims Stadium, the light poles all appear to be pushed in dangerous directions. It was worse at Lake Charles-Boston's Cougar Stadium, where some light poles have fallen completely to the ground, and none stand straight. Just across the street from Cougar Stadium, Legion Field's light poles are perfectly straight, though some point the wrong direction.

    Gary Laney
    American Press

    Contact number for Merrill Lynch clients

    Merrill Lynch's Lake Charles-area clients may reach the company through this toll-free number to the Amarillo, Texas, office: (800) 365-2252.

    I-10 open to through-traffic

    All state highways in Calcasieu Parish are open. Interstate through-traffic is now on I-10. I-210 is closed to through-traffic and is accessible only by checkpoints.

    Residents staying in the parish should avoid using the Interstate system. They may not be allowed back through the checkpoints. If a parish resident needs supplies from a FEMA distribution site or from a business that is open, they should avoid using the Interstate system to go there.

    No burning of anything is permissible because there is no way to fight fires that may break out. Debris can be removed and disposed of when it is safe.

    Tom Hoefer
    Calcasieu Parish

    Lyondell requests employees check in

    Lyondell Chemical Company wants to hear from all displaced employees regarding their personal situations, and to ensure they are safe and have adequate accommodations. The company asks employees to please call (888) 457-6118 to check in.

    Aeroframe Services asks employees to return if possible

    Aeroframe Services in Lake Charles at Chennault Airpark would like to request that any members of the workforce who can report to work to come in Wednesday or as soon as possible to assist in facility clean-up.

    They will need to bring their badges and should try to report to the plant about 8:30 a.m. and plan to work until 5 p.m.

    Employees can contact Kerry Mitchell, director of communications, at (330) 304-4000, (619) 886-1881, or by e-mail at

    Harrah's contact number changed

    LAS VEGAS – Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc., asks all employees of Harrah’s Lake Charles Casino & Hotel to call its toll-free hurricane relief hotline at (877) 422-7466 as soon as possible so they can be accounted for and provided updates as they become available.

    DeRidder stores open to weary customers

    DERIDDER — The line seemed endless at the Stop-n-Save on West 1st Street in DeRidder when cashier Sharla Moore turned to owner Christine Strahan and said she needed a break.

    "It's hot. I need air," Moore said, wiping sweat from her red face.

    Strahan said her store has been filled with customers desperate for food and drinks for nearly two days.

    Strahan and her husband own two other local stores which were open Sunday, but sold out of supplies. No stores in DeRidder have gas, she said, despite rumors.

    "We sold out of that before Rita hit," she said.

    Strahan predicted it would be only a few hours before Stop-n-Save's shelves were empty. That prediction came true early Tuesday afternoon, when the store was finally picked clean.

    "We're just trying to help people out," she said. "Nobody has anything. We're just doing our part."

    At about 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, the line at the DeRidder Wal-Mart started wrapping around the store's massive parking lot.

    Weary customers gathered at the doors as early as 6 a.m. to be in the front of the line. Police officers stood guard at the doors to ensure order.

    Customers were allowed in 25 at a time and were limited to two loaves of bread and two bags of ice each. Other merchandise, however, was not restricted.

    Wal-Mart employees said the store would remain open depending upon supplies. Other DeRidder businesses, including Popeyes and Ryan's Steakhouse, also opened Tuesday.

    Elona Weston
    Beauregard/Vernon Bureau Writer

    Insurance information for state, school employees

    The Louisiana Office of Group Benefits (OGB) is reaching out to its 75,000 state and school employees and their families who have been displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and who have health insurance through the state of Louisiana.

    The OGB has announced several changes that make it easier for displaced state workers and school employees to obtain health care through its four programs — PPO, EPO, MCO and HMO:

    All plan members who live in zip codes starting with 700, 701, 704, 395, 396, 705, and 706 (plus zip code 70377) who want to switch to the PPO or the EPO can do so. The EPO has a nationwide network of physicians and hospitals. Plan members can contact their agency headquarters or call the OGB for assistance at (800) 272-8451. Plan members interested in switching can also get help in determining their new premiums.

    PPO, EPO and MCO plan members can print a two-year history of their medical claims, including lists of lab and x-ray tests, and prescriptions from the OGB Web site at This will be especially useful for plan members seeing new providers.

    PPO, EPO and MCO plan members who use out-of-network pharmacies will not have to pay a penalty until further notice.

    Plan members in the EPO, PPO, MCO and Humana HMO plans will be able to refill prescription drugs without the usual 30-day restrictions.

    United Behavioral Health has a hotline for all OGB plan members in any plan the EPO, PPO and MCO who have behavioral issues or who need a list of disaster relief assistance resources in their area. The toll-free number is (866) 615-8700. Additional resources are also available at the UBH Web site at

    Plan members in the FARA MCO can call (800) 427-4511 for help. FARA has moved its customer service operation to Lafayette.

    EPO plan members can call UnitedHealthcare toll-free at (866) 336-9374. Plan members in the Humana HMO can call the customer service center toll-free at (866) 427-7478.

    LeLeux declares public emergency in Sulphur

    In order to provide all citizens of Sulphur with required police and fire protection, safe ingress and egress on city streets, water quality and production, and wastewater collection and treatment, the city will need to take appropriate actions to provide these services, which have been limited as a result of Hurricane Rita. To do this will require the declaration of a public emergency.

    Louisiana Public Bid Law provides in R.S. 38:2212, that all public work including labor, materials and all purchases of materials or supplies exceeding the sum of $15,000 must be advertised and bid, with an exception as stated in R.S. 38:2212 (D). This section of the law will not apply in cases of extreme public emergency where such emergency has been certified to by the public entity and notice of such public emergency is made available to the public.

    In the current fiscal year, appropriations were allocated for emergency situations. The cost for restoring basic city services, which were interrupted by Hurricane Rita, is not known at this time, but is not expected to exceed $500,000. The city will make every effort to secure reimbursement from FEMA for any and all funds expended.

    Therefore, a public emergency is hereby declared by Mayor Ron LeLeux as of Sept. 26, necessitating required purchases and services for the restoration of basic city services without the normal formalities.

    Verizon says it's making progress

    HOUSTON - Verizon Wireless says its crews continue to make significant progress restoring service to the hardest-hit areas of the Texas Gulf Coast and Southwest Louisiana.

    In the Beaumont and Lake Charles areas, the network "remains heavily impacted," with service largely restored to the city centers and along major highways, Verizon said in a statement.

    "More than 85 percent of Verizon Wireless cell sites in the Texas and Louisiana coastal areas have their own back-up generators and extended battery back-up to operate during power outages," the company said.

    FEMA: Roof tarps coming Thursday

    FEMA says blue tarps that can be used to cover roof damage will arrive in two days. Distribution locations have not yet been announced.

    Minaldi, LC Division business to operate from Lafayette

    Judge Patricia Minaldi will be temporarily working out of the Lafayette Federal Courthouse. All Lake Charles Division business will also be handled at the Lafayette Federal Courthouse.

    In Jeff Davis, damage, but homes mostly spared

    Damage is widespread in Jeff Davis Parish following Hurricane Rita.

    Residents are returning to the area to find roof damage, windows blown out of their homes and businesses, uprooted trees and downed power lines.

    “It’s a lot better than I thought I’d find,” Gwen Richard said as she surveyed the damage around her mother’s home, finding only loose shingles and downed branches. "We got lucky this time."

    The parish's damage is moderate to extensive, according to Sheriff Ricky Edwards. He said the hardest-hit areas appeared to be Lake Arthur, which had inland flooding, and Topsy, which sustained hurricane force winds. Edwards also reported flooding on the south side of the parish, including Grand Marais and Bayou Chene areas.

    “There’s not a lot of houses damaged,” Edwards said, “mostly road flooding and major tree damage.”

    Edward said crews were working to restore power, connecting vital services first, concentrating on local hospitals and nursing homes. The closest power is in Iota.

    “If you are in a place that has electricity and air conditioner, you’ll want to stay there until the power is on,” he said.

    Those returning home scramble to buy generators, while others wait in long lines for bags of ice and precious gas. Others returned to their homes to assess the damage and clean out refrigerators, but many stayed home, sweating it out and trying to deal with life after Hurricane Rita.

    “I opened the windows to my house to get a breeze, but it’s still hot in here,” said George Simon as he fanned himself with a magazine.

    A parishwide curfew is in effect from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. until further notice. Edwards said some looting of homes and businesses has been reported, and arrests have been made.

    About 500 additional police, government and military personnel are in the parish providing security and distributing ice, water and meals-ready-to-eat. Ice, water and MREs are available from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Market Basket in Welsh, the old Winn-Dixie parking lot in Jennings and the VFW in Lake Arthur.

    Drop-off distributions sites are also located at the Bayou Chene and Fenton fire stations, Elton High School, Topsy VFW and the Welsh and Hathaway fire departments. Officials are working on establishing a pickup site in Roanoke.

    Gas is available at Tiger Mart in Lake Arthur, Buddy’s Chevron in Jennings on Shankland Avenue, and Murphy USA in Jennings; Shop Rite is working to get gas services running.

    A trash container is located behind Parker’s Department store for household trash, including spoiled meat and food, and is available from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday-Friday. No tree limbs, debris or batteries are allowed.

    Highway 90 west of Welsh is closed due to a downed utility pole. Interstate 10 is open across the parish, and most parish roads are now open.

    Schools are closed this week. A decision on reopening schools will be made at the end of the week.

    Dr. Mark Clawson’s office at 805 N. State St., Jennings, is open as a clinic. He is handing out medications and dealing with medical referrals. The closest emergency rooms are in Crowley and Lafayette.

    For more information or to report problems, call the Jeff Davis Sheriff's Office at (337) 821-2100.

    Doris Maricle
    Jeff Davis Parish Bureau Chief

    Calcasieu officials working on re-entry plan

    When area officials consider re-entry into Calacasieu Parish, it’s as much about how as when.

    Learning some of the lessons from Jefferson Parish's handling of Hurricane Katrina evacuees, Calcasieu mayors and parish officials went to work on a plan to bring residents back into their communities.

    "There was a lot of chaos" in Jefferson Parish, said Calcasieu Parish spokesman Tom Hoefer. He said that many people who went into Jefferson to check on their property got stuck there because they either didn't have fuel to get out or had other vehicle issues. "They had to be evacuated again."

    Issues of sanitation, logistics and traffic gridlock plagued Jefferson residents. That parish kept its residents out for a week before allowing some back in to check on their property.

    In Calcasieu, "the enormity of the situation is incredible," said Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach. "Every level of service is at risk." Roach said there is no timeline yet for residents to return, but such plans will be structured for limited re-entry. "We can’t support everyone here."

    Among the main issues were water and sewage. Roach said he has generators online to support 75 percent of the systems.

    Broken water lines -- both mains and ones into homes -- will make it difficult to maintain pressure, Roach said. The mayor also said that services such as garbage collection are also affected by the lack of fuel.

    Because of Hurricane Katrina earlier this month, resources normally available for disaster situations are already stretched to the hilt, he said.

    Dennis Spears
    Night Editor

    JD Bank's main branch regains power

    Employees at Jeff Davis Bank's main branch in Jennings shouted "Hallelujah" as main power returned at about 1:50 p.m. on Tuesday.

    Nancy Hayes, who works for the bank's president, said the bank had been on generator power for days. She said the bank's power is connected to the Jennings American Legion Hospital.

    Employees were able to access accounts and other financial information. Hayes said the Kinder branch was open, but the McNeese branch had been damaged. She said with power back, employees were ready to head west to examine other branches.

    Garrett Guillotte
    Staff writer

    Remarks from Entergy Louisiana

    The remarks below were made by Renae Conley, president and CEO of Entergy Louisiana, at a news conference in Lake Charles held Monday:

    "Good Afternoon!

    Hurricane Rita has caused catastrophic damage to the electric infrastructure in Lake Charles and southwest Louisiana. Early damage assessments are providing evidence that much of the work will be rebuilding the electric distribution system, rather than simply repairing it.

    Both the Nelson and Sabine power plants are offline and currently being assessed for damage.

    Damage to the transmission system that feeds electricity in Lake Charles is extensive. Transmission crews are currently assessing the system in and around Lake Charles to determine what lines are in service and how power can be delivered into the City.

    Currently, we have identified 117 transmission lines out of service and 125 substations out of service in southwest Louisiana. Damage assessment continues, and these numbers may increase.

    Regarding the distribution infrastructure, we have already identified hundreds of poles and cross arms that have been damaged and need replacing. We have hundreds of miles of electrical wire down that will need repair.

    At this time, while we are still assessing the damage, we can not give definitive estimates on when power will be restored to Lake Charles. We expect that we it will be weeks, rather than days, before large numbers of customers can be restored.

    In the meantime, we will work with Mayor Roche and city officials to determine what critical services need prioritization for electricity, and we will work with to get power to those locations first.

    In closing, I would like to say to all the citizens of Lake Charles and surrounding areas that Entergy will be a partner in the rebuilding of the area. We understand our role in getting life back to normal, and we will do everything we can to help this community.

    Thank you."

    Beauregard school board paychecks to be distributed Wednesday

    Beauregard Parish School Board paychecks for Sept. 28 will be distributed to regular employees at the central office in DeRidder on Wednesday.
    All direct deposits have been converted to regular paychecks.
    Employees whose last name begins with letters A to M may pick up their checks from 9 a.m. to noon. Employees whose last name begins with letters N to Z may pick up their checks from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
    A photo I.D. will be required to pick up checks. If an employee is picking up multiple checks, they must bring all applicable photo I.D.'s so that the checks can be released.
    Checks will not be mailed. All checks will be held at the central office in DeRidder for pickup.
    Information regarding paychecks for substitute employees and employees payed semi-monthly will be made available later this week.

    Beauregard notes: Distribution centers open today

    There will be water, ice and food distribution today, Sept. 27, at 5 p.m. at locations in DeRidder, Merryville and Longville. Distributions will take place at DeRidder Dollar General Store, at 827 Mahlon St., at the Merryville High School football stadium on La. 110 and at South Beauregard Elementary School on U.S. 171.
    Anyone with electricity and water are asked not take ice and water from these locations.
    There will be an information center set up at each location to answer questions. People in shelters should get their supplies from the shelter, not from these locations.
    Do not come to Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Office for ice, water or MREs.
    — Gas stations are beginning to get electricity and fuel distribution is beginning. The sheriff's office is asking stations and customers to limit their purchases to $25 per family per day until power and supplies are restored. At that time the $25 limit will be relaxed.
    — The resource center at the old K-Mart building in DeRidder is currently closed and is in the process of replenishing their supplies. When the center is ready to open, the date and procedure for use will be announced.
    — The Sheriff's Office is asking people to contact FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA to get ID numbers.
    — Other law enforcement agencies are sending deputies to assist local law enforcement and the national guard in security duties. Currently, Lincoln and Madison Parish Sheriff Departments are present in Beauregard.
    There is zero tolerance concerning looting in the parish. In the last two nights, six people have been arrested for looting, which carries up to 15 years in the Louisiana Department of Corrections.
    — The Police Jury has announced that they have opened a debris site at the east corner of Hwy. 190 and Old Airport Rd. This site will be taking debris logs and stumps. Larger pieces should be cut as close to stumps as possible, in 20-inch pieces. There will be equipment and personnel at the site to assist in unloading the debris. The hours of operation will be from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

    CPSB looking for employeees

    The Calcasieu Parish School Board is trying to make contact with the following school board employees:
    Maintenance employees
    Cafeteria managers
    Payroll Department employees
    If you are one of theses employees or if you know how to contact one of these employees, please relay the following message to them, the school board Web site requests.
    Those employees are asked to call the CPSB hotline at (337) 433-1049.
    "Please do not call this number unless you are one of the persons listed above," the Web site states. "The person answering this number does not have any further information about CPSB issues."

    Hibernia needs employees

    Employees who are able to work, even if they are not physically at their normal work locations because of evacuations, are needed in both branch and non-branch offices, according to the Hibernia Web site's Hurricane Emergency Message Center.
    Those employees should contact their managers for work site assignments.
    Hibernia employees in areas affected by Hurricane Rita are asked to call the bank's Employee Emergency Information Line for updates on any impact on Hibernia's offices and operations.
    Customers may call 1-877-706-4233 for a recorded update on storm impact or 1-800-262-5689 to reach Hibernia's customer service agents.
    All offices in Calcasieu and surrounding parishes are closed. The main offices in New Iberia and Franklin are closed because of power outages, but the remote drive-ups are open. Offices in Lafayette and Abbeville are open.

    Iowa water safe; Use care with generators

    By Jamie Gates
    American Press

    Iowa Mayor Margo Racca reassured residents of her area that the water is safe to drink.

    For Iowa residents wanting to evacuate, buses are at Market Basket to shuttle them to the Lake Charles Civic Center for evacuation.

    Lake Charles Fire Chief David Manuel is urging citizens of Southwest Louisiana to be careful when using generators. They are not to be used indoors as that would cause death by carbon monoxide poisioning.

    "People don't realize that when they wire the generators into their circuit boxes that they are causing a backfeed into already downed power lines which is causing fires," Manuel said. "If someone accidentally touches one of these lines, not knowing that it's live, they can be electrocuted." He stated that he understands people needing generators but that they are really compounding the problem.

    BECI, Entergy hit hard

    By Jamie Gates
    American Press

    Kay Fox with Beauregard Electric stated that the company lost power to 100 percent of its customers — which leaves 36,500 customers in the dark.

    "Crews were in the area even before Hurricane Rita hit," said Fox, of the crews who have been living in tent cities trying to restore service. "It's going to be a slow process and we ask for patience from our customers."

    Fox is asking people to log on the their website at

    Entergy Corporation CEO Renea Conley stated that they are doing assesments all over Southwest Louisiana. "So far, we've seen 117 transmission lines down and 125 substations are out. That translates to hundres of miles of wires down. It could take weeks to restore electricty to the area." she said. "We will work closely with Mayor Randy Roach to prioritize energy restoration to our customers."

    FEMA Director in Lake Charles

    By Jamie Gates
    American Press

    New Federal Emergency Management Agency director David Paulison was in Lake Charles Monday to address questions about FEMA's response in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita in Southwest Louisiana.

    "I am crediting the lack of loss of life to the swift evacuation of residents and coordinated efforts of all the local emergency prepardness officials," Paulison said. "Lots of people have lost everything and we are going to stay here until we get the situation resolved."

    Paulison stated that the "successful response from locals and parish residents and officials to state personnel - has truly been a partnership" adding that he's been very pleased with the results.

    Five deaths have been attributed to the storm, however, those were in Beaumont. So far, no deaths in Louisiana have been reported.

    Paulison asked residents to call 1-800-FEMA to register for disaster assistance or log on to the website at If those in need have a bank account, the money can be sent through direct deposit. He stated that those who no longer have homes need to provide a valid mailing address to receive money.

    "President Bush has approved 625 million for housing assistance with the bulk going to Louisiana residents," Paulison said. "Recovery will be a slow, methodical process but we'll cut through the red tape to speed up the process."

    State Senator Mary Landrieu was also on hand at Monday's news conference to provide reassurance to the residents of Southwest Louisiana.

    "Our state has been devastated by two powerful storms," Landrieu stated. "This has become a national disaster which will take an unprecidented national response. We can't stop the water. We can't stop the wind. But we can invest in coastal restoration, Landrieu said.

    "We are the country's only energy based coast. People don't come to Louisiana to sunbathe. The nation is already realizing the importance of Louisiana to the economy as a whole."

    Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach has spoken with local FEMA officials and said that there are plans to put a local FEMA office in Lake Charles so citizens could apply for relief in person as well as have concerns answered.

    "The request has to come through the state and we put that request in this morning," Roach said.

    FEMA Distribution Points

    Main FEMA distribution sites:

  • Lake Charles: Civic Center
  • Sulphur: Climatrol building (Old Wal-Mart) on Cities Service Road
  • Moss Bluff: Old Wal-Mart

    The following locations may provide a shuttle to one of the main distribution sites:
  • Dequincy: Phelps Correctional Center
  • Vinton: Vinton Elementary
  • Iowa: Iowa High School
  • Hayes: Galley Road fire station

    Residents will be given meals-ready-to-eat, water and ice. The parish is working with both military and FEMA and asks that residents be patient with supplies.

    Tom Hoefer
    Calcasieu Parish

  • Airport damaged; FBO still operating

    The hangar shared by Air Logistics and Cameron Mosquito Control is now a pile at the end of the Lake Charles Regional Airport runway. Three small planes are among the damage. A hangar just feet from the destroyed hangar was untouched.
    Vision Aviation, the fixed based operation just north of the airport tower, is open during the daylight hours. Serving mainly military aircraft, the FBO sold nearly 5,000 gallons of jet fuel Monday.

    Naomi Guidry
    American Press

    FEMA in Iowa

    Iowa police chief Charles Ipes says FEMA is distributing food, water and ice at Iowa High School.

    He said military police are helping local police patrol the town, and reported only arrests for curfew violations. Curfew in Iowa is from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    Garrett Guillotte
    Staff writer

    Kinder town clerk: FEMA hard to contact

    John Taylor, town clerk for Kinder, said, "We've had phone service fine in city hall all week long, but we can't seem to make any headway with contact with FEMA."

    Taylor said it's his understanding from the governor's office that Allen Parish is included in the federal disaster area, but it seems that "FEMA doesn't know that."

    Taylor said he is working with U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery to try to find out how to get FEMA into the parish.

    Garrett Guillotte
    Staff writer

    Photos from Lake Charles

    s j b, a user of the photo sharing service Flickr, has posted several photos from Hurricane Rita's aftermath, including many from Lake Charles. There is also a Flickr group for Hurricane Rita.

    Garrett Guillotte
    Staff writer

    Coastal satellite images available

    North of Cameron

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released high-resolution satellite photos of coastal Louisiana and Texas taken after Hurricane Rita's passage. The photos are from Sept. 25-26. Image sizes are between 2-3 megabytes and may take some time to download over a slow Internet connection.

    Each pixel in the images resolves to about 1.2 feet - resolution high enough to clearly see vehicles, small houses, boats and landscape features.

    Here are direct links to images from:

  • Cameron
  • Holly Beach
  • Grand Bayou
  • Creole (South of Creole)
  • Grand Chenier (South of Grand Chenier)
  • Johnson Bayou (West of Johnson Bayou)
  • Cow Island
  • Deep Lake
  • Peveto Island
  • Sabine Pass, Texas
  • Sabine, Texas, and southwest Cameron

    On Tuesday, the NOAA released further images of inland Cameron, west Calcasieu on the Texas border, south Calcasieu on the Cameron border, and southeast Texas, including:
  • Port Arthur, Texas; Groves, Texas (South of Port Arthur)
  • Orange, Texas; southwest Calcasieu
  • Moss Lake
  • Cameron farms, south Calcasieu
  • Black Lake area, south Calcasieu
  • Lake Misere
  • Boudreaux Lake
  • Sweet Lake

    Garrett Guillotte
    Staff writer