After the winds of Rita subsided, it was the storm surge that affected many of the homes in the lower elevation areas of the parish.
Storm surge is simply water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around the storm. This advancing surge combines with the normal tides to create the hurricane storm tide, which can increase the mean water level 15 feet or more. In addition, wind-driven waves are superimposed on the storm tide. This rise in water level can cause severe flooding in coastal areas, particularly when the storm tide coincides with the normal high tides. Because much of the United States’ densely populated Atlantic and Gulf Coast coastlines lie less than 10 feet above mean sea level, the danger from storm tides is tremendous.
The level of surge in a particular area is also determined by the slope of the continental shelf. A shallow slope off the coast will allow a greater surge to inundate coastal communities.
Each community will issue the evacuation times as needed, but just because the winds stop, doesn’t mean it is safe to return. Public officials will broadcast when and if it is safe to return.
In Vermilion Parish, shelters are not prepared before or during a hurricane due to the eminent threat of danger; however, after the storm certain organizations such as the Red Cross will provide shelter, food and water for families who cannot immediately return to their homes due to storm damage.
A shelter, if needed ,will be provided at A. A. Comeaux Recreation Center after the storm, but residents need to listen to news bulletins regarding this matter as well.
Upon returning to the parish and home it is important to determine the possibility of several hazardous items:
• Avoid riding, driving or walking through flooded areas and never go around a police barricade.
• Don’t touch any building, car or other structure which has a fallen power line touching it.
• Don’t use flames or sparking devices unless you are certain there are no natural gas leaks in the area.
• Wear protective clothing, sturdy gloves and shoes.
• Be aware that snakes, rodents and other animals may have taken refuge in storm debris or even in the home itself. Use a method of poking with a stick to allow the animal to flee.
• Do not expose children, pregnant women or persons with health problems to the flooded areas until cleanup is complete.
Consider anything that was touched by the flood waters to be contaminated. Bacteria will likely be present.
Surge means water intrusion and water leave the potential for mold.