Officials continue to push for Calcasieu residents between La. 109 and Sabine River to evacuate

Officials continue to push for Calcasieu residents between La. 109 and Sabine River to evacuate

VINTON, LA (KPLC) - Officials are continuing to plead with Calcasieu residents who live between La. 109 and the Sabine River to evacuate.

It is a voluntary evacuation, but authorities say the waters will reach record levels.

"This is going to be a terrible flood," said Dick Gremillion, director of the Calcasieu Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

Several viewers have asked about Vinton and Starks specifically, but officials have said the line of evacuation is 109, which runs through Starks and west of Vinton. Residents of both communities are urged to monitor the situation.

By 6 p.m. Saturday, March 12, the Sabine is expected to reach a major flood stage of 28 feet near Deweyville, Texas.

It is expected to crest at 34.5 feet on Tuesday, which would break the record of 32.2 feet, which was reached in 1884.

Gremillion said anyone who is in trouble should call 911.

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Friday

As the overflow from Toledo Bend continues to make its way south down the Sabine River, communities are bracing for major flooding.

Calcasieu Parish officials are urging the evacuation of everyone who lives west of La. 109.

Heavy rains in north and central Louisiana earlier this week have caused massive flooding there, which is expected to trickle down the Sabine River. La. 109 runs north-south, east of the Sabine River, through Starks and west of Vinton.

"It's going to be worse than anything we've ever seen in the past, it's going to be a record flood," said Jonathan Brazzell, with the National Weather Service.

Officials are asking residents in the area of the Sabine River to consider a bad flood that hit the area in 1989, then add 5 feet to that. Dick Gremillion, director of Calcasieu's Office of Emergency Preparedness, said the river rose to about 28 feet in 1989.

"We can't say for sure how high the water's going to be, but we're pretty sure all the roads west of Highway 109 are going to have at least some water on them," Gremillion said.

Gremillion said the water could begin arriving by late Friday night or Saturday and crest next week. The water level is expected to remain at dangerous levels for several days.

Emergency officials met at Niblett's Bluff Park Friday- not to figure out a plan to stop or prevent the flooding - but to formulate a plan of how to get people out of the area.

Ward 7 Fire Chief Thomas Berry asked residents to get out in advance of the coming waters.

"Please don't wait until you're in a bind so bad that it makes it tough for us to get to you," Berry said.

"Find out what kind of preparations we need to make," said Trey Cotton.

Cotton lives less than a mile from Niblett's Bluff Park - officials said the park won't look like it usually does by the end of the weekend.

"This river behind us right here will be over the ground where we're standing right now within two days," said Gremillion.

"We've never seen anything like this, we don't have anything to compare it to. So the next best thing is the flood record of the past which is '89 and then you add 2-5 feet to that," said Jonathan Brazzell, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service.

"If they were here in '89 they know how high the water got. And this is expected to be worse and this may be worst case scenario but you need to pay attention to the warnings and take precautions ahead of time," added Berry.

At this point, emergency officials said there's nothing they can do to stop or prevent the flooding. The focus now is getting people out of the area before the waters rise.

Even after the water crests, residents here aren't expected to be in the clear right away.

"Once the water crests it's going to stay like that for several days afterward," said Gremillion.

For locals, like Cotton, the preparation begins now.

"Do what you can to get everything out and be safe about it," he said.

To give you an idea of how quickly the Sabine River is rising - in the last 24 hours it's increased about a foot. That makes the water almost level with the docks.

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