By Cyndi Sellers
The Cameron Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (OEP for short) has issued daily announcements relating to Hurricane Laura recovery, both as text messages and emails to those signed up for the Code Red service. To receive these notifications, simply text CAMERON to 99411. Notices also appear on the OEP Facebook page.
The Cameron Parish Police Jury has been opening dump sites around the parish daily for residents to dispose of household garbage while regular garbage pickup is interrupted. The Sweetlake, Big Lake, Johnson Bayou, and Hackberry sites have been open most days, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Klondike and Lowry dump sites are open regular hours. Household garbage should be taken to a dump, not left on the side of the road with storm debris.
Storm debris pick-up has begun in the Grand Lake area and will continue on parish roads throughout the Parish. DOTD is picking up debris on state highways. Residents are reminded to separate debris into vegetative, furniture/construction, electronic and white goods piles as much as possible.
Due to the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning with the use of generators, carbon monoxide detectors are being made available at various donation sites around the parish as soon as these sites reopen from TS Beta.
A drive-through FEMA Recovery Center has been set up at the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, 1428 LA 27, Bell City. It will be open daily 7 a.m.-5 p.m. once the TS Beta closure is lifted. Walk-up services are available at the LSU AgCenter office in Grand Lake at 10098 Gulf Highway and at the Hackberry Community Center, 986 Main Street, both open from 9-5 daily.
The opening of a Right of Entry (ROE) Collection Center in Cameron Parish for Blue Roof registration has been postponed due to TS Beta.
South Cameron Memorial Hospital
South Cameron Memorial Hospital had opened an urgent care facility in a tent called a “Western Shelter” in the hospital parking lot, staffed by SCMH doctors and using equipment evacuated before the storm by Administrator Leslie Trahan. It was being powered by a solar array donated by TESLA. The operation was taken down in anticipation of TS Beta but is expected to be back up soon.
As for the hospital itself, the high water mark was about 3 or 4 feet inside the building, and it is full of debris, but the Corps of Engineers has certified it as structurally sound and repairable, according to hospital attorney and spokesperson Jennifer Jones. Plans are to replace the tent with a modular temporary emergency room, also set up in the parking lot. The unit will be staffed by SCMH doctors and nurses and will have a full lab and x-ray capabilities.
The hospital’s Board of Directors, after discussion with FEMA, has decided to reconfigure the hospital to include eight to ten beds, lab, x-ray, clinic, pharmacy, and staff housing, which will be located in one of the wings reserved for in-patients. The Board has also decided to elevate the hospital further in hopes of preventing another extended interruption of service.
South Cameron Memorial Hospital was built after Hurricane Audrey and destroyed by Hurricane Rita in 2005. It was rebuilt entirely with private donations. Water did not enter the hospital in Hurricane Ike.
Library Administrator Dede Sanders, while still evacuated, has been overseeing the remediation and recovery of the parish libraries. Johnson Bayou Library received the most water damage but has been completely dried out. The Cameron Main Library fared very well. It has been cleaned and is being climate controlled by generator power. Water remediation has been scheduled at Hackberry library, and a generator rented to keep the books from mildewing. Grand Lake Library is undergoing water remediation now, the last library that needs it. Estimates are being gathered for a moving crew to consolidate the book collections to cut down on the number of generators needed.
Sheriff’s Office in Libraries
The Cameron Sheriff’s Office is moving into the Grand Lake and Hackberry libraries as an interim housing measure. The Law Enforcement Center did not receive much damage, but generator power to run the entire facility is cost prohibitive, Sheriff Ron Johnson said. Staff have already moved into the Grand Lake Library and will soon set up a substation in the Hackberry Library.
Sanders said the libraries may not open to the public until the mandatory evacuation is lifted.