State, local governments prep for icy conditions

(WVUE) - As Gov. John Bel Edwards said his administration would do everything possible to keep people safe during this latest blast of wintry weather, local leaders from Jefferson Parish to the River Parishes made preparations and urged residents to stay off the streets.

"We're looking at all the roads and especially the interstates, highways. But where you have bridges and where you have interchanges and
people need to pay attention because we have a number of those that are already closed. We anticipate that that number will grow over the next 24 hours or so," the governor said.

Dozens of parish school board either closed schools early or cancelled classes for Wednesday.

"All Jefferson Parish schools, both public and private, have been closed tomorrow, and again we just caution people to stay off the roadways. If they don't have work or don't have to go to work, please be vigilant out there, please be careful as you enter these roadways because we don't know about these icy conditions. Further up north they deal with black ice all the time. That's kind of a new term to a lot of people down here," said Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni.

Yenni said the parish has staff and vehicles at the ready to sand roads that may accumulate ice.

"We will have employees with dump trucks on standby with sand if we have to sand over those overpasses. We're waiting until the last minute to do so, so we don't cause any other issues by having sand on roadways before the ice even comes, especially like the round-about at Causeway, the Lapalco overpass and those areas," he said. "We're of course working with the state on any assistance they might need with the interstate system as it runs through Jefferson Parish and any elevated expressways."

People are also urged to look out for people without shelter and the elderly.

"It's important that if any individuals see anyone that appears to be stranded outdoors that they should notify the 911 center immediately and a JPSO unit will be dispatched, and if they are in need of emergency sheltering they will be taken to four shelters that are available to us at this time," said Joe Valiente, director of Jefferson Parish Emergency Management.

Yenni said residents who have not protected exposed pipes should act fast.

"The pressure in this parish system is very good, but we encourage people to do what they need to do to wrap their pipes and secure their houses as best so we don't have to have them run water the pressure in the system is good at this point," Yenni stated.

"It's important that if any individuals see anyone that appears to be stranded outdoors that they should notify the 911 center immediately and a JPSO unit will be dispatched and if they are in need of emergency sheltering they will be taken to four shelters," Valiente continued.

Anyone who cannot reach 911 in Jefferson Parish should call the emergency hotline at (504) 349-5360.

"The big question is how soon do the temperatures come back above freezing because obviously the ice, the snow that we get will be taken care of but if we're going to have a prolonged period of time of freezing temperatures then we have to take additional precautions," said Gov. Edwards.

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