Roadways gradually reopening in wake of Hurricane Laura
August 28, 2020
While the full impact of Hurricane Laura is still being assessed, several highways across Louisiana remain closed, forcing truckers to rethink their routes hauling freight into the Pelican State.
Hurricane Laura, now a tropical depression, reached landfall in Louisiana early Thursday morning, shutting down Interstate 10 and numerous state route highways. As of Friday afternoon, Interstate 10 remained closed. However, the closure had been reduced to a smaller portion.
From Wednesday night throughout Thursday, I-10 was shut down from the Texas border to the Atchafalaya Bay. On Friday morning, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development reopened parts of that closure. As of 10 a.m. local time, I-10 remained closed from Interstate 210/Lake Charles (mile marker 34) to Interstate 210/Sulphur (mile marker 25).
In the immediate aftermath of Laura, several smaller highway closures were reported in Louisiana.
Although many remain closed, Louisiana DOTD is reporting the reopening of several roadways, including:
- State Route 347 at Interstate 10 (Henderson) in St. Martin Parish.
- U.S. 165 from state Route 10 (Oakdale) to Jeff Davis Parish Line in Allen Parish.
- State Route 14 from state Route 101 to state Route 380 in Jefferson Davis Parish.
- State Route 26 from U.S. 90 to U.S. 165 near Allen and Jefferson Davis Parish.
- U.S. 171 from Calcasieu Parish Line to DeRidder.
As of Friday morning, U.S. 90 from state Route 101 to U.S. 165 is closed due to debris and downed power lines. According to a news release, several roads in District 8 in the Central Louisiana Region remain obstructed from debris and downed power lines. All affected roads in Avoyelles Parish have been cleared and reopened but the remaining parishes (Rapides, Natchitoches, Sabine, Grant, Vernon and Winn) all have numerous state highways with debris accumulated.
Both of the Tremont rest areas at Interstate 20 near Choudrant in Lincoln Parish have been closed due to low water pressure as a result of Hurricane Laura. There was no estimated time for reopening as of Friday morning.
Roadways will reopen throughout Friday and the weekend as crews continue cleanup efforts. In the meantime, traffic updates can be found at 511LA.org.
The National Weather Service has reported that Laura is losing its tropical storm characteristics. However, it continues to threaten affected areas with floods and possible tornadoes. A tropical depression as of 10 a.m. CDT, the storm was producing sustained winds of 30 mph. Flash flood watches are in effect for portions of northeast Arkansas, southeast Missouri, western Kentucky and Tennessee, northern Mississippi and northwest Alabama.
Truckers step up for Laura relief efforts
At least one trucking company in Louisiana is doing its part in providing relief efforts. In a Facebook post, Gramercy, La.-based Frisard Trucking Company announced it is taking donations to be transported to the Cajun Navy. This is not Frisard’s first time providing hurricane relief.
Cully Frisard told Land Line that his company has hauled relief supplies for Texas during Hurricane Harvey and New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit. In fact, Katrina had pushed his family out of the New Orleans area to where they are at now in St. James Parrish.
“We have seen some devastation from New Orleans,” Frisard said. “We have seen how slow the government reacted at that time. Anytime a hurricane barrels down on any part of our country, we try to be first to try to get out there and help the best that we can.”
Frisard already has two trailers ready to be loaded over the weekend. He said organizations also call him asking what it will cost to haul their relief supplies.
“My cost to them is nothing.” Frisard said. “I’m not going to charge to help my fellow Americans who are going through what we are experiencing.”
On Thursday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration expanded its regional emergency declaration.
That declaration affects freight for emergency relief in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. For details, click here. Texas and Louisiana have both declared a state of emergency as well, suspending certain federal regulations for truckers providing directly for relief efforts.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Emergency Response Emergency Route Mobility Center has a routing hotline for approved operators providing directly for Hurricane Laura relief efforts: 833-99ROADS (833-997-6237).
The hotline provides response personnel the most effective routes to take to impacted areas. Aggregating information from the public and private sectors, the service provides turn-by-turn directions. Although this service is not for public use, information about access to the Regional Disaster Routing Services can be found here.
Alabama, Nevada and Texas have suspended registration, temporary permit, and oversize and overweight permit requirements for motor vehicles assisting with disaster relief due to Hurricane Laura, according to the International Registration Plan’s website.
According to the United States Coast Guard, ports in Louisiana and Texas have reopened. However, the Port of New Orleans and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway are open with restrictions. All other Louisiana ports are reporting normal conditions. In Texas, ports in Freeport, Galveston and Texas City are also open with restrictions, with remaining ports open unrestricted.