Yukon Street is coated coat with ice, snow and sleet after Monday’s winter storm. (Photo by Melissa Reed via Facebook)
Winston, 5, Isaac, 2, and their father Lyle Guidry of Iota had some snow fun in their backyard on Monday. (Photo by Megan Guidry)
Week of wild weather ends
Sunshine on Friday ended a week where temperatures dipped as low as 12 degrees; and freezing rain, sleet and snow fell on the area and lingered from Monday through Friday.
Eunice Mayor Scott Fontenot took time off on Friday from a plumbing issue at his house to remark Eunice has been lucky with a string of serious weather events in the past six to seven months.
The area was hit by hurricanes Laura in August and Delta in October.
Then it was the Lundi Gras storm of freezing rain, sleet and snow.
Light snow also occurred on Wednesday. There wasa period of freezing rain on Wednesday that posed a danger of iced trees and power lines falling, which didn’t happen.
According to the National Weather Service, the area experienced light snow near midnight Sunday.
The wintry precipitation continued into Monday shutting down all but essential activities.
Lawco, the city’s water provider, kept the water flowing, but its system was stressed by dripping faucets and breaks that more than doubled usage.
Fontenot said on Friday that Lawco was rebuilding its capacity, but also asking customers to conserve. A precautionary boil water warning continued.
The increased water usage resulted in the city’s sewer system running hard, particularly during Wednesday’s rain storm, but the system handled the load, he said.
Eunice had about a two-hour power outage on Monday, but escaped the rolling blackouts that occurred elsewhere.
Mardi Gras was the quietest ever, Eunice Police Chief Randy Fontenot said.
Police didn’t respond to any major events during the of below-freezing temperatures, he said.
There were a couple of vehicles in ditches, but Fontenot said it was like the quiet that hit Eunice when COVID-19 restrictions were in place.
Fire Mike Arnold said Friday began with a couple of calls, but again the firefighters didn’t have to combat any major events. There were a few gas leaks.
On Friday morning, an attic fire on North 12th Street, outside of the city limits, was linked to an electrical issue and was contained without major damage.
A second fire at about 1 a.m. on East Maple destroyed about half of a shed. An electrical short was suspected.
St. Landry Parish President Jessie Bellard said the parish fared well considering the weather conditions.
Flooding was anticipated and the parish had about 1,500 sandbags available to the public at the Yambilee Building in Opelousas. The flooding did not materialize.
But the Yambilee was used to shelter about 25 people from Sunday through Tuesday, he said. After the shelter closed, some of those people were sent to hotels for shelter, he said.
Parish buildings weathered the freezing temperatures without incident, he said.
Parish roads and bridges were iced and in some areas material was placed on areas to improve traction.
The parish public works department did not run out of the material, he said.
The weather, potential internet and power issues were cited for rescheduling a Parish Council meeting that had been set for Wednesday to this Wednesday. The meeting will be held over Zoom.
Cleco, which provides electric service to Eunice, announced on Friday that it restored power to nearly 24,000 customers during Wednesday storm. At the height of the storm about 43,000 of its customers were without power.
On Friday, FEMA announced federal emergency aid has been made available to the state of Louisiana to supplement state and local response efforts in areas affected by a severe winter storm beginning Feb. 11 and continuing.
President Joseph Biden approved Gov. John Bel Edwards’ request for a federal emergency declaration for all 64 Louisiana parishes impacted by the severe and historic winter weather. Specifically, FEMA will provide emergency protective measures (Category B) for mass care and sheltering and direct federal assistance from federal agencies.
FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures for mass care and sheltering and direct federal assistance will be provided at 75% federal funding.
Severe weather started in Louisiana on Feb. 11, with a second round of storms beginning on Feb. 17. More than 200,000 people were without power on the morning of Feb. 16 and as of noon on Feb. 18, 124,738 Louisiana households were still without power. In addition, there are 98 water outages impacting 245,676 people. In addition, more than 956,000 Louisianans live in areas with boil water advisories.