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Concordia Parish may experience damaging wind gusts as Hurricane Laura moves through Louisiana Wednesday and Thursday, according to the Concordia Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director Tim Vanier.

Releasing the latest alert at 10:18 a.m. today shortly before the Sentinel’s printing deadline, Vanier said that according to the National Weather Service, Hurricane Laura is expected to make landfall at 1 a.m. Thursday morning with the eye of the hurricane centering the Louisiana/Texas border.

“If Hurricane Laura stays on the predicted path, Concordia Parish is expected to receive 1-2 inches of rain fall,” Vanier said.

“Winds from the hurricane are expected to reach Concordia Parish around 2 p.m. on Wednesday with wind surges up to 70 miles per hour as the hurricane moves north along the Louisiana/Texas border.”

Vanier said there is a 10% chance of flash flooding in the lower areas of Concordia Parish.

Concordia Parish School Superintendent Whest Shirley said all schools and the central offices will be closed Thursday.

“We’ll play it by ear as far as Friday is concerned,” he said.

Delta Charter will be closed Thursday as well with plans for Friday to be determined later, according to high school Principal Jimmy Comeaux said

On Monday, Concordia Parish Police Jury President Joe Parker in conjunction with Vanier signed a proclamation declaring an emergency due to Hurricane Laura.

The proclamation sets into motion emergency operations to prepare and react to high winds, rain and potential flooding that may come.

The Vidalia Board of Aldermen during a special meeting on Tuesday also declared an emergency and voted to give Mayor Buz Craft emergency powers in responding to the potential issues that might arise.

Emergency declarations enable governmental bodies to qualify for disaster funds if warranted.

Craft said he has met with town supervisors and that all are prepared.

He said that the Vidalia Convention Center would be made available if need be for hurricane evacuees although he did not anticipate any. He said the Red Cross has not indicated it would need the facility.

If there is a loss of power during the storm, he said the convention center would be available to locals if needed “because it is also a community center.” He said the facility could be used as a staging area if needed.

Vanier said OEP is “constantly updating each emergency agency throughout the Parish and emergency plans are in place and each emergency agency is well prepared with equipment and personnel

“Anyone needing help or rescue during the severe weather may call 911.

“The Louisiana 211 number will be operational with any updates on weather conditions or to report any help or rescue needed during the severe weather or to report damages.

“The Concordia Parish OHSEP has sandbags prepared for at the Concordia Parish Prison on Highway 15 in Ferriday for Concordia Parish residents

“There will be personnel at the location to help the handicapped or elderly load sandbags into their vehicles. It is a limit of 15 sandbags per residence and some type of valid I.D. must be shown to assure that you are a Concordia Parish resident. The prison will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for residents to pick up sandbags.

“GOHSEP will push out the Self-Report Citizen Survey to record damages for citizens immediately after the disaster. This information will be pushed from the Concordia Parish OHSEP through media, emails, Facebook post, and will also be posted on the Concordia Parish Police Jury website. This is a tool that citizens can utilize to report any and all damages to their property immediately, along with pictures and geographical maps of the areas that damage has occurred.

“The Concordia Parish EOC (Emergency Operations Center) will be manned during the severe weather and will be in constant contact with Law Enforcement, EMS, and Fire services of the Parish.”

For more information, contact Timothy Vanier, OEP Director Concordia Parish. 4001 Carter St, Room 1, Vidalia, LA 71373, oep@conppj.org, Office 318-414-1678 and cell 318-719-2010

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