LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — Severe water system challenges continue to affect north and south Louisiana, but Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter is hopeful water pressure should be restored to the majority of his city by Sunday.
“At this moment we are comfortable saying that if we can have our community support, if people will turn off those dropping faucets, if we can identify those leaks ... we believe in the next 72 hours we should have sufficient water pressure for the majority of the city of Lake Charles,” Hunter said.
Hunter said every available city employee is currently scouring the city to cut off water to empty structures. Employees from all departments are being trained in how to do this activity to resolve the situation more quickly. More than 750 leaks since Thursday have been found and capped, Utilities Director for Lake Charles Keith Heise said.
He also urged residents to do what they could to cut off water completely or report leaks.
“Please turn off those dripping faucets, call in leaks. Landlords go check on your properties. Please, we’ve got to get those thousands of leaks under control throughout the City of Lake Charles on those private properties and those private lines.”
Hunter on Saturday said the Louisiana National Guard will conduct a bottled water distribution at the Lake Charles Civic Center in the north parking lot. It will last until supplies run out. One case of water per vehicle will be provided.
President Joe Biden declared a federal disaster because of the winter ice storm, marking the fourth in Lake Charles in the past year.
“There will be some reimbursement from the costs that we are incurring right now, and that’s the most immediate thing that it means. It could mean some pipeline of dollars opening up for the private sector — it’s a little too early to determine that. Just the fact that declaration was signed by the president is huge, and it signifies how serious and how intense this event has been for the city of Lake Charles,” Hunter told The American Press.
Meanwhile, Gov. John Bel Edwards scheduled a 2 p.m. media briefing Saturday at LSU Health Shreveport in north Louisiana to discuss the state's ongoing response to the winter conditions.
In addition, all three Ochsner LSU Health hospitals are continuing to bring in reserve water sources due to citywide pressure issues in both Shreveport and Monroe, the hospital system said Saturday.
“Due to consistent water deliveries, the boilers are functional at all three hospitals and providing consistent heat to the facilities, patients and staff," it said in a statement.
In addition, Ochsner LSU Health opened its Urgent Care clinic in Bossier City, with plans to begin regular hours next week. Second-dose COVID-19 vaccinations also resumed Saturday at Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport – St. Mary Medical Center. All other clinics remain closed and are continually being assessed for functioning water sources needed to return to normal hours as the temperatures are expected to improve road conditions.