Residents kept out of Morgan City

September 2, 2008 10:33:27 AM PDT
Many towns to the west of New Orleans got hit hard by Gustav. Morgan City is one of them. Right now, Morgan City has no power or drinking water. There is not widespread damage to buildings and homes there, but there are serious problems, serious enough to delay the return of thousands of evacuees.

At night, the streets are dark throughout Morgan City. By day, you can see why.

"Broken poles in places, wires down, a lot of service drops down across the streets," said Greg Prices, who's clearing power lines in the area. "The best thing to do is keep people out of here until we can get things cleaned up."

Power lines are down all over this city. Making matters worse, the town power plant is offline because of storm damage. The lack of power has caused an even bigger problem, the city has no usable water supply and it could be days before the water is flowing and safe to drink.

"We're already telling people there's a limited amount of services to start with," said Morgan City Mayor Tim Matte. "Now, it's even more grave because people will not be able to flush their toilets and of course the biggest concern is we will not be able to provide adequate fire protection for the city."

Right now, the National Guard is stopping those who are coming back, telling them not to expect any city services. Until the power and the water are restored, residents who evacuated are being asked to stay away.

"If everybody comes back now with no power, no traffic signals and all that," said emergency room physician Herman Jones. "Trying to get back now would be the wrong time."

Even the hospital does not have electricity. The backup generator failed and another had to be trucked in overnight and is still being hooked up. The water plant will need a large scale generator to get it back online and it could be days before the electricity is restored.

The best thing for evacuees to do is stay put at least until Thursday or Friday.


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