WINTER WEATHER: How to prepare for freezing weather and what preparations local governments are making

Community

OUACHITA PARISH, LA (KTVE/KARD)– Ouachita parish and Morehouse Parish have issued an Emergency Declaration, meaning all emergency plans must be activated. In addition, Gov. Edwards has declared a State of Emergency due to the potential for wintry conditions beginning this weekend.

“As we are looking at it right now, it is looking like we are going to have several days of below freezing temps. We want to make sure that our most at-risk community members are taken care of,” said Michelli Martin, Communications Director for the City of Monroe.

As temperatures continue to drop, it is important to remember the 4 P’s:

  1. pipes
  2. plants
  3. pets
  4. people

For the citizens most at risk, there are several shelters available throughout the parish. This includes:

  1. The Salvation Army
  2. The Desiard Street Shelter
  3. Liller Marbles Recreation Center

The City of Monroe is opening the recreation center as a cold shelter on Friday at 3 pm and will stay open every night the temperature is below freezing.

“That includes people who are homeless, people who are transit, people who are dealing with the loss of electricity, power, or water in their home. This shelter is open to anyone who needs it,” said Martin.

COVID-19 safety is a priority, so you must wear a mask and social distance.

When it comes to road safety, the City of Monroe says every emergency response department is well prepared. Cones and barriers are already set in place in the event of bridge closures. Trucks are loaded at the airport with sand and salt to de-ice the streets and 5 area bridges. Finally, first responders are on-call and prepared for accidents.

The City of Monroe is also reminding residents not to put grease into the sewer system during cold weather. They say it could create sewer stoppages. The city also says it won’t be able to respond to stoppage requests for your sewer. The reason? Water jet trucks can’t be operated during freezing temperatures. Services will start again once temps get above freezing.

It is important to remember sustained cold temperatures and wind chill will cause exposed water pipes to freeze and burst. Even a tiny crack can unleash more than 200 gallons of water in a single day, but the extent of the damage won’t be obvious until the pipes thaw. Here are some prevention tips:

Outdoor Prevention:
⦁ Disconnect drain and garden hoses from water faucets; this will help prevent the faucets from freezing
⦁ Cover outside faucets with an insulating faucet cover
⦁ If faucet covers cannot be found, wrap the faucet in T-shirts or rags, cover the fabric insulation with some plastic bags and then duct tape it into place
⦁ Insulate and/or heat tape any exposed water piping located outside

Indoor Prevention:
⦁ Insulate any exposed piping under sinks and inside cabinets
⦁ Seal or caulk cracks near piping that could allow cold air in from the outside, such as dryer vents or water pipes
⦁ Keep garage doors closed completely; this will keep cold air from entering the house
⦁ Open cabinet doors to allow heat from the house to circulate and keep the pipes warm
⦁ As a last resort, let the faucets drip; as water conservation is important to the City of Monroe


What To Do If Your Pipes Freeze:

⦁ One of the obvious signs that you have a frozen water pipe is when no water comes out of your faucet when you turn it on.
⦁ The best course of action is to contact a plumber so the pipe can be safely thawed and any ruptures repaired immediately
⦁ If your water pipes rupture and water is entering the house, use your private shutoff valve to turn off the water. If you do not have a private shutoff valve, or if you cannot find it, call the City of Monroe Water Distribution office for an emergency turn off at the meter.
Water Distribution is open from Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.
For after-hours and weekends, call (318) 329-2385.

We also talked with Entergy, they say there is a risk of ice weighing down power lines, that could potentially leave your home dark. Here is some Entergy Info:

  1. Entergy says they have mobilized employees and Emergency Assistance Workers
  2. You can report a power outage 24-7 by calling 1-800-Entergy.
  3. On their website, you can see a map of all the power outages.

We will continue to report on this storm, so stay right here on your weather station.

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