Hurricane Barry poses minimal effect on parish

John Dupont, Contributing Writer
A line 30-cars deep stretched to Bayou Road on Friday afternoon as residents waited at the Iberville Parish Maintenance Facility to stock up on sandbags.

Residents hunkered down diligently late last week in preparation for Hurricane Barry, but the first gulf storm of the 2019 season had only a minor effect on Iberville Parish, according to officials.

The storm brought under 10 inches of rain to Iberville Parish, despite forecasts it would trigger double that amount.

The phase of preparation for Barry's arrival – based on predictions of it being a potentially dangerous storm – brought the usual long lines to supermarkets and gas stations, where residents stocked up on food and supplies and filled their tanks as they braced for the worst.

A line 30-cars deep stretched to Bayou Road on Friday afternoon as residents waited at the Iberville Parish Maintenance Facility to stock up on sandbags as a precaution against potential flooding. Distribution was also brisk at fire stations across the parish.

The parish doled out approximately 100,000 sandbags in preparation for Barry.

"The number of people coming to get them was unbelievable," Sheriff Brett Stassi said. "The parish took on a big expense with the sandbags, but we were prepared."

Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso last Friday imposed a midnight-6 a.m. curfew across the parish. The curfew was in effect only for Friday night.

No arrests were made in relation to the curfew, Stassi said.

Barry made landfall early Saturday afternoon as a Category 1 hurricane, but the slow movement of the storm posed the greatest concern because of its rainfall potentials. Forecasters from the National Weather Service, however, downgraded the rainfall probabilities in half by that time.

The unpredictable nature of the storm posed the biggest challenge, according to Laurie Doiron, director of the Iberville Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

"They were predicting 25 inches of rain even through Saturday, and Sunday they finally adjusted downward – and Sunday night was when we really got our rain, Sunday night," she said.

A reading of 9.25 inches in White Castle marked the highest rainfall across Iberville Parish, Doiron said.

Most other areas – including flood-prone St. Gabriel and north Iberville – reported levels of approximately 7-and-a-half inches, she said.

In Plaquemine, landfall did not pose the problems many feared based on forecasts.

A total of 8.1 inches of rain fell in the city, and some neighborhoods lost power due to fallen limbs.

The city brought in two crews from Kentucky to help in the event of a widespread outage, but the numbers of households that lost power was minimal.

"In the end, it was just minor issues we faced," Plaquemine Mayor Ed Reeves said. "We were very lucky."

The development of Hurricane Barry came about early in the season, particularly when August and early September figure as the most active periods of hurricane season.

Despite the sigh of relief after Barry, residents should not feel a false sense of security, Doiron said.

"The most important message I can give our residents is to stay vigilant," she said.