Hurricane Laura makes her way through Bossier Parish

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Stacey Tinsley, Bossier Press-Tribune

Hurricane Laura made landfall overnight as a strong category 4 storm packing winds up to 150 miles per hour – one of the strongest storms to ever make landfall in the US.

As Hurricane Laura moved through Bossier Parish, she brought with her power outages, downed trees and high water.

Below is a list of what has taken place in Bossier Parish thus far due to Hurricane Laura:

Haughton Fire Department

Additional sandbags are being delivered to the fire station on Hwy 80. We have numerous apparatus staged at the Haughton Fire Department and do not have room for the influx of traffic to receive sandbags here.

Haughton Police Department

TRAFFIC ADVISORY: Traffic signals are out all over town. Please be cautious if you must get out!!

Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office

Bossier Sheriff’s deputies in the high water truck are checking on residents in the Fox Chase neighborhood in Haughton.

Congressman Mike Johnson

I’ve been on the phone this morning with many of the sheriffs, emergency directors and state legislators across our district and there is good news and bad news.
The good news is that, by God’s grace, there is thus far only one fatality confirmed statewide, and the storm surge from Laura was only about half of the 20′ that was projected.

The bad news is that it appears Hurricane Laura will go down in history as a tie for the worst one we’ve ever sustained–and the aftermath is extensive. Many, many homes and businesses are significantly damaged or completely destroyed. Power is out for what appears to be at least 1/3 of the state, and may be out for some time. Countless trees and powerlines are down everywhere, and the sheriffs of Allen and Vernon Parishes, for example, both told me they believe literally every roadway may be covered with trees. In Beauregard Parish, they are also dealing with municipal water outage at the same time, and in Lake Charles they’ve been battling a chemical plant fire. Cameron, Vermillion and Calcasieu Parishes are among the worst hit.

Because the more southern areas are still not accessible, no one yet knows the full extent of the damage to our state. Our people are the most resilient and caring in the world, and everyone is ready and willing to help their neighbors in need. Unfortunately, even though so many are willing to assist with their chainsaws and heavy equipment, it is still unsafe to involve lots of civilians due to the downed powerlines that are on the ground almost everywhere.

Many Southwest Louisiana officials who are veterans of big storms have told me this was one “bigger than Rita” and some of the worst weather they’ve ever witnessed. And still, it could have been even worse.
Keep praying and stay safe, everyone. We will get through this together.

Swepco Hurricane Laura update

Hurricane Update No. 3
11 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020

· Outage update
o At 11 a.m., more than 125,000 SWEPCO customers were without power.
o 112,000 of the affected customers are in northwest and central Louisiana.
o Early reports include widespread damage with trees, utility poles and wires down across major roadways.
o The number of customers without power continues to climb as heavy rains with hurricane- and tropical-storm-force winds head north.
o The storm moved into the Valley District as a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph maximum sustained winds.

· Downed power lines
o All power lines should be considered energized and dangerous. Although a downed line may look harmless, it could be carrying electricity.
o Don’t touch anything in contact with the line, such as trees, fences, or water puddles.
o Stay away and keep children and pets away from downed lines.
o Report downed lines immediately to SWEPCO at 1-888-218-3919.

Workforce
o Nearly 2,300 workers from 14 states and Canada will join more than 400 SWEPCO employees to restore power

· Damage assessment process

o After the storm moves through, crews will begin assessing damage, which is essential to effectively planning the recovery work.
o Customers may initially see trucks patrolling for damage to the electric system, hazards such as downed power lines, and issues that could affect access for recovery work.
o After damage is assessed, crews will be dispatched to begin repairs.

· Storm restoration process
o Priority is given to essential public health and safety facilities such as hospitals and police and fire stations.
o Work starts with the major power lines and substations that serve large areas and restore power to the largest numbers of customers in the shortest time.
o While crews may not be in the immediate area of individual outages, they may be working elsewhere to complete repairs necessary to restore power to the larger area.
o Then crews fix local power lines and equipment and serves multiple customers, and individual service lines to homes and businesses.

· Generator safety
o If you use a portable or RV generator, do not plug the generator into your circuit box.
o Portable generators can “backfeed” electricity up the line and risk the lives of repair workers and the public.
o Follow the manufacturers’ instructions carefully, and plug essential appliances directly into the generator.

· Keeping food cold
o During a power outage, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep cold air inside.
o Check out sources of ice or dry ice, if needed.
o Food should stay frozen for 36 to 48 hours in a fully loaded freezer, 24 hours in a half-full freezer – if you keep the door closed.

Reporting and Tracking Outages

· Use the SWEPCO app, available for download via the App Store or Google Play.
· Log on to SWEPCO.com to report an outage and sign up for text and email updates, including an estimated time of restoration.
· Visit SWEPCO.com/OutageMap to find detailed information without logging into your account
· Call 1-888-218-3919 to report your outage. During and immediately after the storm, customers are asked to call the Customer Solution Center only to report downed power lines and other situations that could pose a safety threat.

For updates and photos see SWEPCO.com and, follow SWEPCO on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Bossier Schools

All Bossier schools and centers will remain closed Friday, August 28 due to widespread power outages in the community and at several school sites.

Classes will resume Monday, August 31 and will mark the first day for Kindergarten. For those students on the hybrid schedule, it will be a ‘B’ week, meaning middle and high school students whose last names start with L-Z will attend school for in-person instruction on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Group ‘A’ will report to school Monday and Wednesday.

We appreciate your understanding and hope your family is staying safe.

Bossier Parish Police Jury

A state of emergency issued Thursday has been lifted and offices at the Bossier Parish Courthouse will be open Friday, Aug. 28 at 8 a.m.

Photos by: Stacey Tinsley, Bossier Press-Tribune

Storm damage in Shady Grove in South Bossier City