NEW ORLEANS - If you live in St. Charles Parish, officials are asking you to get out as soon as possible. The parish issued a mandatory evacuation order that went into effect at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Isaac brings the threat of a dangerous storm surge and winds, said parish officials. They are expecting wide-spread power outages for extended periods of time and a loss of emergency and parish services, potentially including sewer and water services.
'I think there's 100 percent certainty there will be widespread power outages,' said Scott Whelchel, director of the St. Charles Parish Emergency Operations Center. 'You'll have the loss of all emergency services. So fire, EMS, law enforcement, critical functions people need in certain times, especially during severe weather.'
Whelchel said emergency personnel will stay in the parish, but there may be a certain point during the storm where they won't be able to have gain passage through roadways and provide necessary services.
'The bottom line is we have a finite amount of time to make these calls,' Whelchel said. 'The decision point for an evacuation order passed and we were at a critical point where we have to look at the worst case scenario. And frankly speaking, that worst case scenario absolutely warrants need for evacuation.'
Officials expect weather conditions to begin deteriorating as early as 1 a.m. Tuesday.
By 7 p.m. Sunday, lines already had formed at a St. Charles Parish gas station on River Road as people began to get ready to evacuate.
But some, like Ryan Unger, are planning to wait it out. He filled up gas cans Sunday night in case he has to run his generator.
'Starting to get a sense of anxiety,' Unger said. 'Realizing we ain't really ready for a storm. Trying to think about what we have to do to get in place and get ready for it.'
Unger said he may evacuate at the last minute if he believes the threat is imminent.
If the storm track moves 40-to-60 miles west of its current forecast, the west bank of St. Charles Parish could get 5.5-to-8 feet of water, according to Whelchel. There is no hurricane protection levee in that area of the parish
School and parish offices will be closed through at least Wednesday. Many of the chemical plants in the area have decided to shut down operations until further notice because of Isaac, Whelchel said.
If you need parish assisted evacuation, call the EOC immediately at (985) 783-5050. Bus pickups will take place between 10:30 A.M. and 4:30 P.M. You may bring pets as well as one carry on item and one personal item.
A spokeswoman for the parish said 100 people are registered for parish assisted evacuation right now. You must pre-register in order to receive evacuation assistance from the parish.
Whelchel said even though there is a mandatory evacuation order in place, they will not block people from coming back into the parish over the next few days.