News for Friday 090117
By Dave Graichen
Nearly 900 disaster victims from Texas are taking shelter in Louisiana. That’s according to Governor John Bel Edwards, who says the state is prepared to take in 3,000 more of our neighbors, who can be housed at shelters in Lake Charles, here at the evac-center in Alexandria, and in Shreveport
Irma is now a category 3 hurricane in the Atlantic with winds up to 115 miles per hour. Forecasters say Irma will be a major hurricane by the time it reaches the Caribbean early next week. Governor Edwards says while we aren’t sure where the system will go, there is a chance it could head for the Bayou State.
The western half of Calcasieu Parish is under a voluntary evacuation as flooding from the Sabine River is possible. Tom Hoefer with the parish police jury says fewer than one thousand homes and camps are included in the evacuation. He says residents in the area have plenty of time to get out of their homes. The river is extremely swollen after the flood gates were opened at the Toledo Bend Reservoir.
The Department of Agriculture’s mobile pet shelter has been deployed in Lake Charles to help with pet evacuations. Ag Commissioner Mike Strain says they will do whatever they can to ensure pets are safe, while their owners are coping with the disaster. He says currently they have 86 pets in their care and they are preparing for an additional 500 pets in here in Alexandria. He says donations of dog and cat food are welcome. The department is providing 200 soft sided carriers for pets traveling by bus.
Prices at the pump jumped three cents overnight as storm-impacted refineries shut down in Texas. Don Redman with AAA says the statewide average is about $2.22 a gallon, up from $2.14 a week ago. Redman says prices could reach up to $2.40 a gallon in the coming weeks before the refineries reopen. But he says once they do, there’s an ample supply of gasoline for plants to distribute.
This weekend Louisiana hunters can enjoy a tax break on their guns and ammo during the 2nd Amendment sales tax holiday. Byron Henderson with the state department of revenue says eligible items will be fully exempt from local sales taxes and subject to only three percent of the state sales tax. The sales tax holiday runs this Friday through Sunday throughout the state.
The Cajun Navy is hard at work rescuing disaster victims in Texas, and the Cajun Gravy is making sure they are well fed. The Cajun Gravy is serving up Louisiana delicacies like jambalaya to first responders in Orange, Texas. The group consists of cooks from Baton Rouge, Gonzales, and Donaldsonville.
The original owners of the Hodges Garden State Park are taking back the 948-acre recreation area in Sabine Parish because the state department of tourism can’t afford to maintain the facility. The assistant secretary in charge of the state park system, Robert Braham, says the state is transferring Hodges back to the Hodges Foundation, effective the last day of September. The state took over the park in 2007. Barham says there have been issues with upkeep due to continued budget cuts for Louisiana’s state parks. He says in the last 10 years, the department has seen a 40 percent reduction in funding.
A team of 10 Baton Rouge area firefighters are heading to Port Arthur, Texas, to assist with the Harvey relief efforts, as the city is reportedly underwater. Task Force 2 consists of seven firefighters from Baton Rouge, two from Hammond, and one from Zachary. The team of trained rescuers will be in Texas for two weeks.
State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon is urging Louisiana residents to purchase flood insurance as we’re seeing an uptick of historic flooding events. He says when congress reconvenes next month, he will push for significant changes to the National Flood Insurance Program.
The Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office says a high school teacher is under arrest in Jennings for allegedly having an improper relationship with a student. They say deputies received a complaint about 26-year-old Rachel Gillespie, and an investigation led detectives to request a warrant. She was booked for indecent behavior with a juvenile.
The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau is gearing up for a busy weekend as the LSU-BYU season opener takes at the Mercedes Benz Superdome at 8:30 p.m Saturday. Kristian Sonnier with the CVB says even though the game was relocated last minute due to Harvey, they are expecting a big crowd. He says the Decadence Festival will be underway at the same time. Sonnier expects about 50,000 people will be in the Crescent City for the game that they were not anticipating.