Tuesday, September 27

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

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