Generators the saving grace

In Vermilion Parish life is getting back to normal as the lights come back on, people move back into their homes, businesses reopen and services are restored after the effects of Hurricane Gustav.

Although a large percentage of the population in south Louisiana evacuated to other locations in the state or the neighboring states, some residents stayed in their homes and weathered the storm.

One of the biggest challenges for the evacuation was the lack of gasoline at service stations in the parish.

In Abbeville people filled their tanks in preparation of departure, leaving little or no gasoline. Kaplan, Erath and Delcambre and Abbeville ran out of fuel, but Gueydan and Maurice was still selling fuel until the power went out.

Some businesses, like Robies in Abbeville were able to get back up because they had generators or backup power.

In a conversation with Senator Nick Gautreaux, who owns a convenience store and gas station in Kaplan, he said it would have been a better situation if ice and gasoline deliveries were performed prior to the storm, but it didn’t happen that way.

“We have ice today, but we didn’t have fuel,” Gautreaux stated.

Mayor Linda Hardee of Kaplan said the city was without power for almost three days, but felt lucky that there was minimal damage.

“For Rita we were without power for five days, so the actual two full days we were without power wasn’t bad,” Mayor Hardee stated.

“The real problem is that we are mostly out of fuel. I can’t understand how, in an oil and gas state that we can not have fuel.”

She stated that as of yesterday Gauteraux’s station was supposed to get a shipment.

Yesterday, gas stations that did not have generators started operation again.

The Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (OEP) housed at the Vermilion Parish Courthouse was powered after the hurricane hit by generator power.

The city of Abbeville required several generators in order to power lift stations in the city once the power went out.

The Sheriff’s Office command center at the Old Hibernia was powered by a generator, as well as the various fire stations, police stations and other emergency responders around the parish.

Most of the generators were already in place, but others were ordered through the OEP office as they were needed.

The requests for free generators were submitted via computer request and then confirmed by the state office.

One such confirmation call came into the OEP office on Sunday evening. The call, received by Assistant Director Tim Creswell was for the approval of a generator for “a Nick Gautreaux, an owner of a gas station in Kaplan.”

Senator Gautreaux confirmed that he made the request through Department of Natural Resources Secretary Scott Angelle to get the generator “to be able to get gas to the people”.

The generator requested was not immediately available and a follow up call on Tuesday evening came to the OEP office.

The matter was referred to OEP Director Becky Broussard who confirmed with the Mayor of Kaplan Linda Hardee that the city was getting back power and the generator would not be needed. Broussard cancelled the request for the generator at that time.

“I requested it so that the people could get what they needed,” Gautreaux stated. “It didn’t matter what store it came to, just so the people in Kaplan had the opportunity.”

Senator Gautreaux stated that he contacted someone about the request for a generator being an ethic’s violation and then subsequently cancelled the request.

He also was disappointed that there was no ice and water for the residents when they came back into their cities.

“I guess they expected to have those when they came back like they have before.”

In the City of Abbeville the lights were at 100 percent by yesterday evening. Kaplan, Erath and Maurice had power by Wednesday evening. Delcambre city had electric by Thursday afternoon, but some customers of Entergy are still waiting for power.

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