Sunday, September 25

City, parish update

City and parish officials in locked-down Calcasieu Parish said at a Sunday news conference that Oct. 3 would be the day that some residents could return to begin assessing damage to their homes and businesses.

Officials, though, later backed off that statement, citing difficulties in the restoraton of electricity for the area. Entergy officials say the repair of main transmission lines could take longer than that to complete.

Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach also said that when you are allowed to return to the area, don't expect things to be normal.

''Be patient with us,'' said Roach. ''It will be a long period of recovery.''

Officials say that only those checking on property will be allowed to return at first.

''No kids and grandmas,'' said Calcasieu Parish Police Jury President Hal McMillin. ''Just adults who are there to assess and fix problems.''

Roach also stressed that in the meantime, evacuees can apply for FEMA grants of $2,000. They can be obtained through the FEMA Web site or at some shelters.

''If you register for FEMA today, you can have money in your account tomorrow,'' he said. ''The $2,000 is intended to tide you over.''

Officials said those who rode out Hurricane Rita who want to be evacuated from Lake Charles should go to the Civic Center, where FEMA buses will take them to shelters out of the area. It was not made clear where those shelters are.

It was also stated that Lake Charles Fire Department crews will make rescues for those needing medical assistance. Call 911 for assistance.

The general theme of the news session was ''stay away, stay away, stay away.''

Westlake Mayor Dudley Dixon said those who return now will be ''getting in the way of people trying to clean up. It will be a drawn-out process. Be prepared for that.''

''We cannot do the job with traffic in the city,'' said Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso in regards to the restoration of utilities.

In Sulphur, there is some running water, but the city in in ''a boil situation,'' said Mayor Ron Leleux.

He said residents of that city should ''take no chances. We'll let you know when it's safe to drink.''

Leleux described the situation in the city as ''very bad. We lost a lot of trees, and houses need roofs - but we also see how well houses stood up.''

The parish, which has been cordoned off by law enforcement and the military, is under a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

Lawmen reported no fatalities in the parish as of Sunday.

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