Surprise Tropical Storm Causes Damage and Power Outages
Residents in Washington Parish were for the most part taken by surprise when an unexpectedly strong tropical storm passed through Friday night and Saturday morning.
Tropical Storm Olga’s wind gusts were considerably stronger than had been forecast, causing downed power lines and fallen trees all over the parish. Many residents were without power when they woke up Saturday morning.
Washington-St. Tammany Electric Co-op crews had restored power to many residences and businesses by the end of the day Saturday, and more members were restored on Sunday.
In the entire WST system, consisting of Washington, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes, slightly less than 1,000 members were still without power as of Monday morning.
The co-op called in extra employees and contractors to help with the power restoration work.
Many of those were expected to have power restored either later Sunday or during the day Monday. WST officials are asking any member who still doesn’t have power to contact the co-op at 1-866-672-9773.
The tropical storm also caused rising streams. As much as 4 inches of rainfall was recorded in some areas of the parish. The Bogue Chitto River rose considerably, but was already falling on Sunday and it continued to drop on Monday. It is expected to be back at normal levels later this week.
Washington Parish wasn’t the only Northshore parish hit by the storm. In nearby St. Tammany Parish, thousands were without power, and traffic lights were out in many areas of Covington and Mandeville. Tangipahoa Parish was also hit hard, with many areas without electricity following the storm.
Electric cooperatives such as WST and power companies such as Cleco and Entergy rely on National Weather Service forecasts to decide if they need to prepare for major storm outages. In the case of Tropical Storm Olga, the NWS forecasts didn’t accurately project the strength of the wind gusts.