State Offices Close in Advance of Ike in 2 SW Louisiana Parishes

September 12, 2008

Still recovering from Labor Day’s Hurricane Gustav, south Louisiana braced Sept. 11for a brush with Ike, a powerful hurricane on a projected course for the Texas Gulf Coast.

Calcasieu Parish officials in Louisiana’s southwestern corner ordered a mandatory evacuation for low-lying areas and all special needs residents. Government offices in Calcasieu and coastal Cameron Parishes, where a mandatory evacuation already was in effect, were closed.

Louisiana officials said storm surge gates were closed at Bayou Bienvenue in St. Bernard Parish, the Harvey Canal on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish, Bayou Lafourche in Golden Meadow, Bayou Little Caillou in Terrebonne Parish and Bayou Terrebonne in Terrebonne Parish.

Tropical storm warnings were in effect from the Alabama state line westward to Cameron. A hurricane watch stretched from Cameron to Port Mansfield Texas, meaning hurricane conditions were possible in those areas by late Friday.

On Wednesday in St. Bernard Parish, the southeastern coastal parish all but wiped out three years ago by Hurricane Katrina, Parish President Craig Taffaro declared a state of emergency and asked residents living outside of the parish’s hurricane protection system to voluntarily leave.

Those communities include the towns of Delacroix, Yscloskey and Alluvial City. Farther west, Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph also declared a state of emergency and issued a mandatory evacuation for those who live south of the Leon Theriot Floodgates in Golden Meadow, as well as the community of Pointe-Aux-Chenes.

The preparations came as thousands remained without power because of Gustav, and as the state worked to ease the application process for thousands low-income people who sought disaster food stamps in the wake of that storm.

On Wednesday, the state said U.S. Department of Agriculture officials agreed to extend the sign-up period from seven days to 14 days – which would continue it through Sept. 23.

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