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City of Lake Charles preparing for potential impacts from tropical system

Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 7:39 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - It doesn’t need reminding that this region has seen more than its fair share of severe weather.

Now, the verdict is still out as to where exactly the rain is going to fall in relation to this latest tropical system. Crews from the City of Lake Charles were out earlier this week clearing out ditches and drains of possible obstructions to prepare for whatever comes our way.

”We’ve pulled some other employees out of other departments, and we have them going out and cleaning catch basins, cleaning the gutter lines...,” city administrator John Cardone said.

As forecasters continue monitoring a broad low-pressure system in the Gulf, Cardone says they’re working to expedite drainage needs in flood-prone areas.

”We have cleaned, I believe, over 25% - at this point - of our drainage system, and we’re moving very aggressively to finish the rest of it.”

Meanwhile, homeowners are still trying to clean up from last month’s flood.

”We have some concerns. We think our drainage system has been compromised. That’s why we’ve gotten approval from the city council to modify our budget, to go out and borrow money, because we believe our system has been compromised because of recent hurricanes and flooding,” Cardone said.

He says they hope to leverage recent approval to borrow $20 million for ongoing drainage and infrastructure needs.

”We find basketballs, we recently... found a T.V. in our drainage system. So, when that all starts getting to our drainage system, it is not working properly,” Cardone said. “So, when we’re talking about assessing the city and coming in here making these drainage improvements, it’s not just the underground system. It’s the open ditches, it’s the catch basins.”

With this being the year’s first tropical system to make its way inland, city and parish officials say they’ll be monitoring it closely with additional crews staged throughout the weekend.

Wednesday, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury announced that sand and bags are available to residents free of charge at several parish locations.

READ MORE: Calcasieu Parish Police Jury announces sandbag locations

At 7 p.m., the storm’s center was about 455 miles south of Morgan City with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph. It was moving north at 9 mph.

It’s expected to reach tropical storm strength by Friday evening when it approaches the Louisiana coast, then weaken back to tropical depression strength after making landfall early Saturday.

ENTERGY monitoring tropical disturbance

While the system’s path and intensity could change, forecasters expect it to bring severe thunderstorms, strong winds, heavy rains, high tides, and coastal flooding to portions of Louisiana.

Though it may be too soon to determine the exact location, timing, and magnitude of the storm, Entergy encourages customers to monitor all local weather alerts and have their storm plans in place. For preparation and safety tips, customers can visit the Entergy Storm Center at entergystorm.com.

Gov. Edwards on tropical disturbance

Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency after the Hurricane Center labeled the system Potential Tropical Cyclone Three on Thursday afternoon and predicted it will become Tropical Storm Claudette on Friday afternoon.

Forecasters warn not to focus on the storm’s center, as its biggest effect is expected to be the delivery of as much as 10 inches of rain to the north and east of the center. That would inundate portions of Louisiana east of the Atchafalaya River and parts of Mississippi and Alabama.

The storm could deliver wind gusts of greater than 45 mph and a possible tornado or two in southeast Louisiana from Friday evening through Saturday.

“Right now everyone in Louisiana along the coast needs to be paying attention,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday, “because we have rivers that are already high and drainage ditches that are already full. Smaller rain than we may have experienced last month could be just as catastrophic.”

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