By Message Staff
VILLE PLATTE – Louisiana Baptist Disaster Relief teams are sending a number of chainsaw teams to Ville Platte, one of several towns, impacted by the latest round of storm-spawned tornadoes that roared through much of southwest Louisiana Sunday, May 19.
According to Louisiana Baptist state Disaster Relief Director Gibbie McMillan, chainsaw teams from Boyce, Breaux Bridge, Lake Charles and Walker will meet Tuesday, May 21, at the First Baptist Church in Ville Platte to coordinate a response plan.
They will then disperse into the community to work on 40 homes damaged by the storm. Other trained and untrained disaster relief volunteers can also meet at First Baptist Ville Platte to help with the response.
The response is expected through Saturday.
The National Weather Service confirmed eight tornadoes touch down in Louisiana Sunday, two in Mamou and Ville Platte; three in Beauregard Parish as well as heavy flooding while another one was reported in Allen Parish.
As of noon Monday, May 20, approximately 500 customers in Evangeline Parish remain without power following Sunday morning’s storm that left an estimated 22,000 customers across Cleco’s service territory without power.
According to Cleco, the hardest hit parishes were Avoyelles (1,338 customers without power), Allen (1,823), Evangeline (6,597), Iberia (6,010), Rapides (823) and St. Landry (1,555). Cleco crews and contractor crews are still making repairs and expect all customers who can accept power to be restored by Monday.
In addition to the damage, three people injured in Evangeline Parish and taken to the hospital in Ville Platte for treatment Sunday.
The Advocate reported damage from Sunday’s storms included Champagne’s Quality Foods and Hebert’s Boudin and Cracklin in Ville Platte, and a home in Mamou which was moved by high winds from its foundation to the middle of the road. High winds also tore off a room from Bear Creek Western Store in Montpelier.
KPLC-TV in Lake Charles reported that strong thunderstorms damaged homes near Singer, DeRidder and Oakdale, but no one was injured.
The storms also caused extensive flooding in DeRidder, which received 7.87 inches of rain Sunday, while Pitkin (5.47 inches) and Rosepine (4.51 inches) also saw significant rainfall.
During a visit Sunday to Ville Platte, Edwards announced he planned to declare a state of emergency.
“I want to thank all of the people of this part of the state that have been good neighbors to one another, and all the first responders who have been working so hard all day and who will continue to work into the night helping citizens who are without electricity, whose homes have been damaged, who have received a lot of debris and so forth in their yards and on the roads,” Edwards said.
Edwards added that he is grateful no one died from the storm.
“Very fortunately, there has not been a loss of life, but the hospital here in Evangeline Parish and Ville Platte has reported there has been three relatively non-serious injuries that were weather related,” he said. “We have been very fortunate that there hasn’t been a loss of life or serious injury yet. Quite often in these types of natural disasters when that’s the case we will have a serious accident or even a fatality when individuals start to go about and clean up, either through operating a chainsaw or a tree falls the rest of the way or they touch a power line that they thought was not live and it turns out to be live.”
Edwards urged residents to avoid traveling in damaged areas.
“This is not a time for sightseeing,” he said. “We also are asking that everyone monitor their local authorities. Heed the warnings and the advice that they are giving.”