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|Ouachita declares state of emergency|
Ouachita Parish officials declared a state of emergency Thursday morning due to possible flooding that could occur from an expected three to five inches of rainfall by Friday.
Ouachita Parish Police Jury president Shane Smiley signed the declaration at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Ouachita Parish Courthouse.
Sandbags will be provided at several locations throughout the parish. People will be able to get pre-bagged sandbags at the Ouachita Correctional Center. Inmates began filling sandbags Thursday morning.
People will also be able to get sandbags at the old landfill on Enterprise Drive in West Monroe where bags have also been filled by inmates.
Also, people can fill sandbags at two other locations in the parish. Sand will be outside Osterland Recreation Center in north Monroe and at La. Machinery in south Monroe. Bags will be available at these locations and they are free to the public.
Smiley said Ouachita Parish officials did not want to make an emergency declaration too early, but believes the timing was right to do it Thursday morning before the thunderstorms rolled into Ouachita.
"This gives us ample time to set up our sandbagging stations. We've been preparing for this. We've known that we have high water. We've been having flood taskforce meetings, and we'll be working around the clock. We feel like we're pretty much prepared for more water," Smiley said. "Everybody is on board and ready to get started, but we still don't know exactly what the path the weather is going to take and how much weather we're going to get. They are predicting five to eight inches with it stalling over Shreveport and Monroe for a period of 24 hours."
He said the Ouachita Parish River is the highest its ever been for the month of October at roughly 43 feet. Also, other tributaries are full, ditches are holding water and the ground is highly saturated. So, with the prediction of more rain and fallen trees, Smiley said parish officials believe the emergency declaration was needed.
"We feel like this is something we need to do in order to be prepared. We want to be proactive, but we don't want to be in panic mode," Smiley said.
He suggested residents who have ditches near their home go ahead and inspect them before the heavy rains begin to make sure there are no limbs or trash that would impede the flow of water.