Freeze warning continues

Robert Mabe, an inspector at Cameron in Patterson, warms his fingers during a short break this morning. Mabe arrived to work shortly after 4 a.m. (The Daily Review Photo by Courtney Darce)

By PRESTON GILL pgill@daily-review.com

Initial reports indicate Morgan City and the surrounding area managed to escape the first night of near-record cold with inconvenience and discomfort rather than misery and disaster.
With Internet access and 24-hour news and weather availability, people are informed well ahead of time and get prepared for cold weather, Patterson plumber Fred Robicheaux Jr. said.
“It is not like it was back in the 70s and 80s, when people all over the place were having busted pipes. It is a good thing that people are now able to get ready,” Robicheaux said. “Years ago, pipes would be broken everywhere and there would be a shortage of material to repair them. It was rough on everybody.”
Preparation and protection is the key to keeping an expensive plumbing bill from taking a hit on the family finances, he said.
Residents who have not made preparations yet should realize the area remains under a hard freeze warning for at least one more night, meteorologist Kent Kuyper of the National Weather Service said.
The weather service recorded a low of 20 degrees from the New Iberia airport Monday night, which was 1 degree off the record set in 1970, Kuyper said. The last time it got down to 20 degrees at that reporting station was in 1979.
Temperatures should crawl into the low 40s and then are expected to drop well below freezing to about 22 degrees again tonight, Kuyper said. The high Wednesday is expected to be in the mid-50s as the area thaws its way out of what may be the most frigid weather of the year.
“I expect this will be the coldest outbreak of the season,” Kuyper said. “Generally we will only get one really cold front like this one in a season.”
Alfred’s Plumbing in Morgan City received a call this morning from a Franklin woman whose pipes had frozen but not yet leaking, office manager Linda Cole said. But that was the only weather-related call they had received by Tuesday morning.
“Residents should insulate all exposed pipes if they have not done so already,” Cole advised. “If your pipes do freeze, you should cut the water off at the main valve so that it will keep you from getting a large amount of water damage if the pipes do break. It might even be a good idea to cut the water lines off before a freeze and open your faucets.”
Morgan City had a couple of issues with water line breaks Monday that were quickly repaired; but those were not related to the weather, Mayor Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi said.
“We were well prepared last night in case anything came up but we had no weather-related issues to address,” Grizzaffi said this morning. “We will remain prepared and on standby today and tonight.”
Berwick had a similar water line breakage Monday afternoon on Belleview Front, public works director Rafael Lopez said.
“We were able to get it fixed quickly with a clamp repair with no one having a water service interruption,” Lopez said.
Emergency responders from the local police and fire departments reported a slow night Monday night.
Morgan City assistant fire chief Mark Stephens said extremely cold weather events often leads to what he called “misuse of heat” which can cause fires, but to this point residents have escaped such a disastrous event.
“It was very quiet last night,” Stephens said. “We were very lucky.”
There were no weather-related issues reported by Patterson public works director Dave Lowery.
The St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office, along with police from Morgan City, Berwick and Patterson, reported no weather-related incidents.

St. Mary Now & Franklin Banner-Tribune

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