Gov. Edwards surveys damage in parish
Gov. John Bel Edwards visited Franklin Monday to survey damage caused by Tropical Storm Barry.
Accompanied by Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, Rep. Sam Jones and Sen. Bret Allain, Edwards addressed media and other public officials in the St. Mary Parish Council meeting room.
“At the end of the day, we didn’t get exactly what was forecast,” Edwards said. “We thought it was going to be windy and flooding. Overall, with respect to the wind, St. Mary was spared and the state was as well.”
He said the expected amount of rain was over-estimated. “Can you imagine trying to fight the storm surge on the one hand and 20 inches of rain on the other hand? We moved a lot of generators and a lot of pumps because of that forecast.”
The storm surge may have been underestimated by the National Weather Service “because you didn’t get the storm surge we expected, and I suspect that years ago, long before this storm, we invested in levees here in St. Mary Parish and it made a tremendous difference.”
Edwards said there are more coastal protection projects underway right now this year than ever. “Every time we get a new project done, it makes us that much stronger,” he said.
The governor said a network of communications with public officials all over the state helped aid coordination of resources and manpower, and 3,000 National Guard members were stationed all over the strike zone, including Franklin and the parish.
He said that at the state level officials will study what happened during the storm and how reaction can be improved, and he encouraged local governments to do the same.
“We’re going to keep working with St. Mary and other local governments throughout the state,” Edwards promised. “We’re having frank conversations about the things we need to do.”
He added, “We did not have a single levee in the state that failed. A few overtopped. And in just about every case the overtopping occurred where we had construction in progress to shore up the levee at those locations. The system performed really, really well.”
Sen. Allain, in response to a question, said he does not expect any effect on the current sugar cane crop, which is still young, and should recover.