Emergency Officials Begin Responding To Calls For Help As Harvey Hits Louisiana

Aug 30, 2017
Originally published on August 30, 2017 6:56 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall again early this morning on the southwestern corner of Louisiana at the border with Texas. Louisiana had been getting hit with heavy rain from Harvey for days. Hundreds of people there were forced from their homes, and officials were bracing today for that number to jump dramatically as the storm moved over the western part of the state. But that didn't happen, at least not on the scale that emergency officials had feared.

NPR's Jason Beaubien is in Lake Charles just north of where Harvey came ashore. Hi, Jason.

JASON BEAUBIEN, BYLINE: Hey. Good afternoon.

SHAPIRO: We've seen so much devastation in Texas from this storm. What happened where you are?

BEAUBIEN: Yeah, look; there were heavy rains that hit here, and there were roads that were flooded. And some people did have to be rescued. But all in all, Harvey wasn't that bad here. I was out this morning with some sheriff's officials, and early in the morning, they didn't even have any calls of people being trapped, needing assistance. Some of those assists - those calls did start to come in a bit later.

But this parish that I'm in extends all the way over to the Texas state line. And what's crazy about it is that the - you know, the state line almost seemed like this magical barrier separating Texas and Louisiana today. Just across on the Texas side in Port Arthur and Beaumont, there was heavy rain and serious flooding. And then over here on the Louisiana side, yes, there was some flooding. But you know, even as Governor John Bel Edwards said today, it was much less than anticipated.

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JOHN BEL EDWARDS: Across Louisiana, while things are still serious and there's a long way to go, we nevertheless have fared much better than we had feared might be the case.

SHAPIRO: Jason, this is an area that has seen its share of horrible storms. Hurricane Katrina hit there. Just a few weeks later, Hurricane Rita devastated the area where you are right now. So how are people where you are reacting to what they see happening across the state line in Texas?

BEAUBIEN: Yeah, you know, like so many people around the country, their hearts are just completely going out to the folks over in Texas. There - a lot of the resources that were being mustered here for what they expected to be this huge disaster - now they're sending those west. The problem, however, is that Interstate 10 which runs into Texas is shut down and - as well as a lot of the other roads. So there's huge logistical challenges to sending those supplies and equipment over there.

But one thing that they are doing here is offering shelter to people from Texas. The Lake Charles Civic Center - it's been open for several days as a shelter. Last night, it had about 350 people in it. Most of those were locals. I was over there today talking to Sherry Raymond, a registered nurse who's helped running the place. And she says they're going to try to make as much space as they can for the people who've been flooded out of their homes over in Texas.

SHERRY RAYMOND: We have been notified that we're getting a busload of rescued people that the Coast Guard rescued in Texas. And they're coming in soaking wet. So we're going to have another place set up for them that we can triage them and make sure they're OK and get them some dry clothes.

BEAUBIEN: People here have been showing up at the civic center almost all day to donate clothes, blankets, pillows. It's really just an amazing scene of big SUVs showing up. And people are getting out. And you know, this one guy from a local restaurant was carrying this big pot of gumbo, and another guy had this cooler full of frozen turkeys.

On top of that, you've got individuals who are just coming in to help volunteer. You know, the parish is really opening up as much as it can. It's trying to have another shelter that's going to be specifically for people from Texas. You know, so there's a lot of the preparations for the disaster that didn't fully hit here. They're now being redirected to their neighbors over in Texas.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Jason Beaubien in Lake Charles, La. Thank you.

BEAUBIEN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.