Ascension Parish spared as Hurricane Laura makes landfall

Michael Tortorich

Hurricane Laura made landfall as a Category 4 storm early Aug. 27 along the southwestern Louisiana coast, causing minimal impacts some 140 miles away in Ascension Parish.

Entergy trucks staged along Marchand Drive in Donaldsonville the evening of Aug. 26, prepared to respond to outages as Hurricane Laura loomed in the Gulf of Mexico. Entergy Louisiana representatives said crews in the thousands were ready to respond to damages and outages throughout the state.

Laura made landfall at 1 a.m. in the Lake Charles area, near Cameron, the parish seat of Cameron Parish. 

Ascension Parish and municipal officials reported only minor issues later in the day. Local leaders communicated via a conference call, facilitated by the parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre was among the officials who publicly thanked residents for taking the threat of both storms, Marco and Laura, seriously. Just before noon, he reported all roadways in the parish as open to traffic.

“I thank all of our citizens of Ascension,” Webre said. “You have been vigilant and you have prepared well for the impending storms. Today we are so fortunate.”

The sheriff reported about 800 customers lost power during the storm.

He added that employees of his office had been working tirelessly to keep the community safe.

“We will remain guardians of our community,” Webre said.

Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment posted photos of the Henderson, Marvin Braud, and Sorrento pumping stations. In a press release, a spokesperson said Cointment worked through the night, visiting the pumping stations and Public Works’ order sites.

The Emergency Operations Center was partially activated throughout the day Aug. 27, as officials continued to monitor conditions as lingering rain fell during the afternoon.

Brittany Decker, anchor/reporter for WVTM, interviews Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan as Hurricane Laura looms over the state Aug. 26. WVTM, an NBC affiliate in central Alabama, is based in Birmingham, Ala. The crew worked with its sister station, WDSU in New Orleans, to cover the hurricane.

Entergy and DEMCO reported some power outages within the parish, according to the release. Entergy restored power to about 200 locations in Sorrento, and others in Gonzales and areas north of the city. DEMCO reported fewer than 50 customer outages.

Line workers staged throughout the area, beginning before Laura’s landfall. A post from Entergy said crews in the thousands were ready to respond to damages and outages throughout the state.

Cara’s House, the parish’s animal shelter, evacuated animals ahead of the storm to the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales. 

Cointment reminded residents to remain vigilant as the parish remained under a flash flood watch, a tornado watch, a wind advisory, and a coastal flood watch.

Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan provided an update live via the city’s Facebook page. He said the city was spared of any significant damages and flooding.

Tornado warnings the day before Laura made landfall were sent out around the area. A tornado was reported in nearby Paincourtville, but officials in Assumption Parish said no damage was found.

“We drove around the city looking to make sure there were no downed trees or anything needing immediate attention,” Sullivan said.

He thanked members of the Sheriff’s Office, the city’s Fire Department, Parish Council member Alvin “Coach” Thomas, and parish government employees for their assistance. 

In the aftermath of the hurricane, President Donald Trump met with Gov. John Bel Edwards and several officials in Lake Charles Aug. 29. A similar meeting occurred later in the day in Texas.

Through the weekend, crews from outside of the area assisted communities in both southwestern and northern Louisiana where effects of the storm stretched.