As Isaac Approaches Baton Rouge, Holden Says Safety Is Priority

Aug 29, 2012

Mayor-President Kip Holden at the East Baton Rouge Parish Emergency Operations Center.
Credit WRKF/Ashley Westerman

As Isaac approaches Baton Rouge, city officials are now on a 24-hour information cycle to better inform and help residents.

WRKF's Ashley Westerman spoke with East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden And he says wind and rain are the main concern as the Isaac hits the Capital Area.

HOLDEN: We're looking at winds that could gust up to sixty miles an hour maybe more for at least the next 24 hours so we are asking people to stay off the roads, unless there is an extreme emergency because those winds will be pretty rough. The second thing is because of the speed of the storm its going to bring more rain, double digit rain, anywhere from 10 to 14 inches that will create some flooding problems in a lot of areas mainly along the Comite, the Amite, because the waters are backing up into those areas but also in areas that are traditionally low lying areas in East Baton Rouge Parish. So the fact that the storm has slowed down gives it more time between wind and water that will occur in East Baton Rouge Parish, and the fact that it is a very dangerous storm, and we are on the worst side of the storm for danger we are urging extreme caution on the part of all of our residents.

WESTERMAN: Today there has been some issues with some of the levees in the southern part of the state. What about the levees in our area?

Holden: The levees in Baton Rouge are secure. We have no threats whatsoever of the Mississippi river toppling the levees in Baton Rouge again because the water level has been so low. We have pretty much no worries at this time about the levees at all, so we would encourage people not to put any more on their plate in terms of worrying because the levies in Baton Rouge are safe.

Westerman: And this might be a bit of a long shot question but if people have relatives or friends coming up from the southern parishes still what type of advice would you give them to give their people as they're coming into Baton Rouge into the afternoon maybe into the evening?

Holden: What I would encourage people to tell their friends who may be coming to Baton Rouge, is number one the wind gusts are going to be very, very strong. The second thing you will run into a number of intersections where the lights are out if they come to those intersections make sure they stop and treat it as a four-way stop sign the next thing is make sure that you have all of your gear, your essentials, your medicine, you know, if you have somebody who needs insulin or air supply or those things, make sure they are bringing that with them because their provider may be in another parish and they may have to go through more red tape in Baton Rouge. The other thing is letting people know that the storm is very serious so although they are coming to Baton Rouge that does not mean you are escaping harm's way because the length of time the winds maybe sustained at 60 miles an hour or more which could be the next 24 hours, as I mentioned, and the second thing is that we could have flooding so they need to be prepared that when that person comes to their house if they know those areas flood at certain points in their yard inform them and let people not park in those areas and they end up with another problem of a car that is no longer usable because it's flooded out.

Westerman: And, finally, looking ahead into tomorrow morning what do people need to know about the aftermath of the storm and what they need to do?

Holden: Well, when the storm is pretty much in a situation where we see some clearance we are going to go into neighborhoods and start trying to get trees out of the way and power lines people have to be careful about power lines and touching trees or limbs where there are power lines and they may not know whether or not those power lines are active. So the second thing we will say is that this isn't going to be a short haul because the amount of debris that could accumulate as a result of the length of the storm could be significant so we will work first on the main thoroughfares in terms of getting those thoroughfares clean and trees out of the way and then we will begin to look at the areas where there is a large amount of damage and then we will sequentially complete the whole process somewhere in the next week hopefully whereby we have everything back up and running, the power restored to red lights and at least we can begin to get some normalcy back in our lives. But please we cannot urge enough do not take this storm for granted do not play out in it, let your children play out in it. It's too dangerous and we don't want to see anybody injured at all or any fatalities in East Baton Rouge or anywhere else so we cannot express and urge that enough. Please be careful.

Westerman: Mayor Kip Holden, thank you so much

Holden: Thank you.