Piazza has been through four hurricanes as mayor

Mark Piazza is no stranger to handling hurricane disasters while being mayor of Abbeville. He is considered a pro but not by his choice.

Since 2002, Piazza has been through four hurricanes and three tropical storms.

Over six years, the city has dealt with Hurricane Lili, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita and now Hurricane Gustav.

Although Hurricane Katrina did not hit Abbeville directly, the city received hundreds of evacuees from the New Orleans area.

Piazza was thrown into the hurricane fire three months into his first term. Hurricane Lili made landfall in Vermilion Parish causing millions of dollars of damage to Abbeville’s infrastructure.

Many Abbeville residents were without electricity for two weeks because 300 city power poles snapped like twigs in Lili’s 100-mile per hour winds.

“It was total devastation and chaos,” said Piazza about Hurricane Lili. “It was the hardest thing I have experienced in my life.”

He said what made it difficult was the degree of destruction and damaged to the city.

Compared to Hurricane Lili, Abbeville fared a lot better after Hurricane Gustav.

Only about 15 to 20 electricity poles were knocked down by Gustav compared to 300 for Lili.

The city turned off electricity Tuesday afternoon because the winds reached 50 miles per hour. By Thursday night, 100 percent of the residents of Abbeville were expected to have electricity.

Piazza praised parish and city workers for a job well done.

“It is always very stressful (for a hurricane) but everyone from the parish, the sheriff, the fire and police departments, electrical department to all the way down were very well prepared for this storm,” Piazza said.

“I think the city was better prepared than we have been before.”

Practice makes perfect.

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