Tropical Storm Sally's overnight easterly shift had Tangipahoa Parish officials breathing a bit more easily Monday, but the parish president is warning residents not to let their guard down and has issued a voluntary evacuation for the area's low-lying neighborhoods.
The storm, expected to be either a Category 1 or 2 storm at landfall, is projected to make landfall near the Louisiana-Mississippi line late Monday into Tuesday morning.
Sunday's projection had Sally moving almost straight up Tangipahoa Parish. Parish President Robby Miller said it looked as though it was driving up Interstate 55.
Miller said though the latest track Monday morning shows an eastern shift, there's still the chance for a last-minute western shift and excessive rain and storm surge through the parish.
"We want to make sure we don't let our guard down then get hammered," he said. "The predictive track shows it slowing down to 4 or 5 miles per hour and that's very concerning with that rain."
Miller issued the voluntary evacuation for the lower part of the parish, below La. 22, Sunday, urging residents to shelter with family and friends if possible.
Due to the early evacuations around south Louisiana and the ongoing shelter of those displaced from Lake Charles, the parish's hotel capacity is hovering around 80%, Miller said, and officials are hesitant to open shelters due to pandemic concerns.
Storm surge in lakes Maurepas and Ponchartrain are the most concerning, and though the parish's rivers are in good shape for now, any significant rainfall needs somewhere to go once the storm passes, Miller said.
"The (residents) who have been the most susceptible to flooding in the past are out there getting ready and starting to raise things," Miller said. "People just need to pay attention to the news, the latest reports and make sure they're aware of what's happening."
Miller and several other Tangipahoa Parish officials have visited Lake Charles since Hurricane Laura tore through the area in late August. He said his team learned lessons from Laura they're implementing ahead of Sally.
He's put in a pre-emptive request for National Guard assistance, and has been coordinating with power, water and sewer services in the area in case of a loss of service.
"(Lake Charles) was definitely eye-opening, it makes us re-look at our plans and make sure we have everything in place and ready to go," he said. "Things like having contracts to clear streets power lines, work on the water system, are necessary. All of us worry about electricity, and it's big, but water and sewer makes electricity look about third or fourth on the list."
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