West Baton Rouge Parish officials are busy preparing for the arrival of Tropical Storm Barry, which is expected to begin pouring rain on the parish Friday evening.
The City of Port Allen and the Parish Council have made sandbags available for anyone who may have need for them since the rainfall over the course of the storm could reach 20 inches before it ends, according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“We think we’re as about as prepared as we can be,” said Parish President Riley “Pee Wee” Berthelot, who said in addition to making sandbags available at all of the parish’s parks, public works employees have been clearing drainage ditches and culverts in the hope of preventing flooding.
“We’re trying to be as proactive as possible,” he said, adding sandbags are already in place in the areas where flooding has been an issue during past storms.
With the help of inmates provided by Sheriff Mike Cazes and a sandbagging machine, over 7,000 sandbags are ready and waiting for Barry’s arrival.
Sandbags are available in Port Allen at William Lee Park and Rivault Park, Chief Administrative Officer Adrian Genre said, suggesting people seeking to pick up sandbags at Rivault Park enter the park from the service road.
Around the parish, sandbagging is available--bring your own shovel--at Alexander Park in Brusly, Erwinville Park on Rougon Road and Myhand Park in Addis.
Saturday, which is expected to be the worst day of the storm, is normally garbage pick up day in Port Allen and Genre said, if possible, residents not put their cans out Saturday, but wait until Wednesday instead.
When NOAA issued its hurricane update at 2 p.m. Thursday, Barry was directly south of the delta of the Mississippi River, about 50 miles into the Gulf of Mexico and moving at three miles per hour.
The report indicated the storm was “poorly organized” and was driving winds of about 50 miles per hour.
The storm may not reach the 70 mile-per-hour threshold needed to be considered a hurricane but it is expected to strengthen to 60 miles per hour before making landfall, which could be as early as Thursday evening or Friday morning.
Barry will likely produce local rainfall from a low of 10 inches to as high as 20 inches before it over West Baton Rouge, creating what NOAA calls “a major concern” for flash flooding.