DERIDDER — Taking their cue from lessons learned in stormy 2005, Beauregard, DeRidder and Merryville officials on Friday discussed various scenarios as the threat of Hurricane Dean increases.
Attending the hurricane briefing and ensuing planning session were Beauregard Sheriff M. Bolivar Bishop, School Superintendent Rita Mann, DeRidder Mayor Ron Roberts, Merryville Mayor Charles Hudson and Police Jury President Jerry Kern.
The unified command reiterated to those who may have to evacuate from Southwest Louisiana that Beauregard Parish is no longer a public-shelter parish.
The parish learned in its dealings with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that it does not have the infrastructure to support evacuees.
The southern end of the parish suffered substantial damage from Rita, which caused destruction as far north as DeRidder, said Glen Mears Sr., emergency preparedness director.
“With this in mind, evacuees will need to travel north. Vernon Parish will be the first shelter parish available to those evacuating from Southwest Louisiana,” Mears said.
Temporary shelters may be set up for those who have a vehicle break-down or for local residents who, for whatever reason, cannot evacuate. As soon as conditions are deemed safe, those sheltered there would be moved farther north, officials said.
With the buildup to next week’s possible threat, parish officials are staging equipment, resources and responders.
“Beauregard Parish residents are urged to tune their radios to station KDLA 1010 in DeRidder or go to the Beauregard Parish Library’s Web site for evacuation and storm-related information,” said sheriff’s spokesman Robert L. McCullough Jr. “Also, the American Press and Beauregard Daily News will provide residents with information regarding storm conditions and preparedness.”
As of 2 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 18, Hurricane Dean was listed as a dangerous Category 4 storm, with highest sustained winds at 150 mph. Forecasters caution continued strengthening is possible.