Alexandria preparations continue for Tropical Storm Barry

An Alexandria resident fills a sandbag at the Johnny Downs Sports Complex Thursday morning. (City of Alexandria)

ALEXANDRIA, La. (City of Alexandria) - The Alexandria City Council approved emergency ordinances Thursday authorizing Mayor Jeff Hall to take the necessary steps to ensure public safety and continuation of city services as the city prepares for Tropical Storm Barry.

“The City Council authorized the Mayor to be able to enter into contracts with companies and gave him authorization to spend the money needed,” explained Joe Fuller, vice president of the Alexandria City Council.

As of Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service forecast has Tropical Storm Barry moving through the Alexandria area Saturday morning. Wind and rainfall amounts can vary based on the exact track and speed of the storm, with the possibility of tropical storm strength winds as high as 35 mph and rainfall estimates ranging from as low as 4 inches to as high as 15.

“City crews have been actively working to prepare for whatever impact we get,” Hall said. “With the City Council action today, we have the ability to quickly respond to any storm-related damage and safely restore services if that is needed.”

Utility Director Mike Marcotte said city crews are finalizing preparations throughout the city ensuring drains are clear, removing debris, checking water pumps and power transmission equipment. Plans have also been made to have crews ready in case of widespread power outages. “We have eight contract crews standing by if they are needed,” he said.

As part of storm preparation, a portion of Prescott Road will be closed Friday starting at 9 a.m. to allow for the installation of a pump in that area.

Marcotte added that city officials are working closely with Rapides Parish officials and the 911 center as well as state agencies to coordinate shelter efforts. Local shelters may be needed to aid people who are evacuated from South Louisiana.

Residents are urged to follow standard hurricane preparations, such as securing any loose items on their property, taking down hanging plants that could be affected by high wind gusts, making sure their medicines and food supply are up to date.

Those who live in areas where rising water is an issue during heavy rains should also take precautions. The city started providing free sandbags Thursday and will continue with the same schedule Friday. Elderly and infirm residents may obtain pre-made sandbags from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Friday at the City Compound, located at 2021 Industrial Park Road. Residents must show a driver’s license or current utility bill as proof of residence and there is a 10-bag maximum per household.

Three self-service locations will also be available for residents to get sandbags. The self-service locations will be open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Friday. A driver’s license or current utility bill will be required as proof of residence and there is a 10-bag maximum per household.

Self service locations are:
• Bringhurst Park, in the parking area between Bringhurst Field and the Alexandria Zoo on Babe Ruth Drive
• Cheatham Park, in the parking lot across from Peabody Magnet High School on Jones Avenue
• Johnny Downs Complex, in the front parking lot off of La. Highway 28 West.

Customers are reminded that when storms occur resulting in power outages and storm damage, they may report outages online through the AlexConnects app. Downed wires, poles, and other storm-related issues should be reported to the First Call number at (318) 441-6231.

Residents are reminded to avoid downed lines as they may still be energized and avoid driving in flooded areas. Also, residents should stay indoors and off the roads if possible during the storm and exercise extreme caution while driving after a storm as crews and equipment may be clearing debris and making repairs along many roads throughout the city.

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