Monday, September 26

Southwest La. in national spotlight

Southwest Louisiana is in the national spotlight in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita with stories about it on national network news and in major newspapers nationwide. Here's are excerpts of some of those stories.

* CNN - In a story aired Monday, former KPLC-TV meteorologist Rob Marciano, who now works for CNN, drove to Lake Charles to tour the storm damage. He entered the city off of Interstate 210 onto Lake Street. He tried to visit his former residence but the road was blocked by fallen trees. He also visited flooded areas in Southwest Louisiana.
On the network's Web site - - the main weather story had a Cameron dateline. It quoted military relief commander, Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who conducted an aerial tour of Cameron Parish.
"Aerial photographs showed the storm had reduced rows of homes along the Cameron Parish shoreline to nothing but splintered remains and empty foundations," the CNN story reported.
"The flooded countryside of the largely rural area was dotted by the carcasses of some 4,000 to 5,000 cattle."
In an earlier CNN story, Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach was quoted saying, "The lake has risen higher than I've ever seen in my lifetime."

* Washington Post - The newspaper reported: Lake Charles was particularly hard-hit. On the approach to the city, water lapped at the first-floor windows of buildings, intersections were underwater, traffic lights hung precariously low, and three-foot-diameter trees bisected houses.
Brent McManus, 45, returned to find his lakefront home flooded to the second floor. His children's swing set and a six-foot-high fence had disappeared beneath the lake's surface.
Federal authorities 'told me this property was the fifth most likely to flood in Lake Charles," McManus acknowledged. "They wanted me to build it higher. I guess this time I will."
McManus's neighbor, Judson McCann, 69, stayed in his home through the storm, taking refuge in a room atop the garage: "It was very noisy and dark, and with the rain, you couldn't see across the lake," McCann said. "So I didn't know it was rising." When daylight finally arrived, he found the lake lapping at the garage.
"It was worse than I thought," Lake Charles resident Paul Tabarelli, 27, said. "The house was shaking." Tabarelli boarded up the outside of the house before taking refuge with two friends. A sheet-metal window guard clung to the side of the house bearing the spray-painted legend: "Three people inside."

* New York Times - The newspaper reported: In Cameron Parish, which is just across the state line from Texas and caught the brunt of the storm, small towns and fishing villages were all but destroyed.
The town of Cameron, population 2,000, remained under water in places on Sunday, and other towns, like Holly Beach, which has fewer than 200 residents, seemed to have disappeared.
A day after the eye of Hurricane Rita passed directly over the coastal parish, pushing a storm surge forecast to be as high as 20 feet in some places, familiar landmarks were gone - the fish camps, the store, the intersection of Highways 82 and 27 on the Gulf of Mexico.
"In Cameron, there's really hardly anything left," Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said. "Everything is just obliterated."

Hector San Miguel
City Editor

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