Harvey Moves Toward Louisiana As State Marks 12 Years Since Katrina

Aug 29, 2017
Originally published on August 29, 2017 7:06 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Tropical Storm Harvey is expected to make landfall again later tonight in southwestern Louisiana. The city of Lake Charles, which could be directly in Harvey's path, has already flooded from the storm. Officials say they rescued nearly 400 people from their homes and vehicles last night as local waterways inundated neighborhoods ahead of what could be another downpour.

NPR's Jason Beaubien is in Lake Charles. He reports many people who were sheltering on Monday went back to normal today even as they wait for another hit from Harvey.

JASON BEAUBIEN, BYLINE: Despite areas of Lake Charles still being flooded with anywhere from a few inches to several feet of rain water, stores reopened today, and many people went back about their lives. Local officials, however, warned residents not to get complacent during today's lull in the storm. Forecasters say Harvey could slam this region with eight more inches of rain today and as much as a foot by late Thursday. Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso, speaking today after an emergency management meeting, said the region is in danger of seeing significant flooding in the coming hours and days.

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TONY MANCUSO: We're looking at more flooding this afternoon. We just can't tell you exactly where that's going to take place. But there's not a place in Calcasieu Parish that is not saturated right now at this point.

BEAUBIEN: Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards was visiting Lake Charles today as the entire state braces for what could be a devastating event that comes on the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Overall, local officials say they've been able to respond to all the calls for assistance from people trapped by floodwaters over the past two days. They, however, asked residents to consider evacuating now if they live in areas prone to flooding. Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter says that areas that flooded last night probably will flood again tonight as the center of Harvey approaches.

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NIC HUNTER: It's a lot easier to offer you help and assistance during the day today than it will be tonight at midnight. We will come, as the sheriff said, if we have to at midnight. But if you're concerned, if you're feeling scared right now, if you're worried about your house flooding tonight, pull the trigger.

BEAUBIEN: The mayor says there are shelters available for people who need them. City workers and trucks are also offering to ferry residents to the homes of friends or family who are on higher ground. The one significant shortage here at the moment is sandbags. The city actually has the bags, but it's run out of sand. And the areas where they'd normally dig more sand are under water.

At a small marina on the western side of Lake Charles this afternoon, water from the Contraband Bayou was lapping at the top of the docks. Eddie Olmsted was spraying off the mud that had washed up on the wooden gangways last night. Olmsted isn't too worried about the additional rain Harvey could drop here in the coming hours.

EDDIE OLMSTED: Yesterday - town was pretty dead. Today it's somewhat back to normal. Like I say, right now we're just in a wait-and-see mode to just wait for what's coming.

BEAUBIEN: This shipyard has been in Olmsted's family for three generations. He even lives on a small boat called the Slo Poke that's tied up at the marina. As local emergency management officials are scrambling to prepare for the landfall tonight of Harvey, Olmstead says he's planning to sleep right here on the Slo Poke. If the bayou rises, he says, the boats will just float up higher. Jason Beaubien, NPR News, Lake Charles, La. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.