Natchitoches Parish Closures – August 30, 2017

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All NSU campuses will be closed Wednesday

LSMSA will reopen the residence halls Monday, Sept. 4 at 3 pm

Natchitoches Parish Registrar of Voters Office – Closed Wednesday

Natchitoches Parish District Attorney’s Office – Closed Wednesday

Natchitoches Parish Clerk of Court Office – Closed Wednesday

Tenth Judicial District Courts – Closed Wednesday

Natchitoches Parish Tax Assessor – Closed Wednesday

Natchitoches Parish Head Start Centers – Closed Wednesday

Natchitoches Parish Schools and Central Office – Closed Wednesday

Natchitoches Parish Child Care Centers – Closed Wednesday

Natchitoches Area Convention and Vistors Bureau – Closed Wednesday & Thursday

NSU Demon Quarterback Club Luncheon (set for Wednesday) cancelled

A series of lectures and masterclasses at Northwestern State University by pianist Anthony van den Broek scheduled for Sept. 4-9 have been cancelled and will be rescheduled at a later date.

Due to tropical storm Harvey and the potential for heavy flooding on Cane River, the Cane River Creole National Historical Park will be closed Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 30-31. This includes Oakland and Magnolia Plantations.

Natchitoches Parish Government – Open

Northwestern State University’s Office of Job Location and Development has rescheduled its Part-Time Job Fair for Wednesday, Sept. 13 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Friedman Student Union Ballroom. The event had been scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 31.

St. Mary’s – Due to the extreme flooding in our surrounding areas, there will be a few changes to our Friday night schedule.  Our game against Lakeview will be moved to 6:00 at Turpin Stadium.  Many High school will take the field against Peabody immediately following our game.  St. Mary’s will provide the concession stand for the Many game and we are thankful that we are able to help out another school in a neighboring parish!!
Everyone stay safe and we will see you on Friday!

Sibley Lake Boat Ramps closed until further notice.

 

Cane River Lake Storm-Harvey update

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Public Notice:
August 29, 2017

Cane River Lake is currently at 98.2 MSL.  Pool Stage is 98.0 MSL  Current Lake Status:
The Spillway Landing remains closed.  The lake and all other landings are open.  Heavy rain in the forecast.  Harvey has been a challenging storm to predict and tract.  As the storm moves North East it is vital that property owners remain diligent in observing water levels and weather conditions for personal safety and property protection.  Making decisions should be based on information from the National Weather Service, Governmental Agencies, and your knowledge.  Cane River Lake can rise very quickly, so monitor your property until the storm is over.

Lake Levels will be available and posted as often as possible on the Commissions web site at http://www.caneriverwaterway.com look under Storm-Harvey Post.  Email Alerts will be sent as lake levels and/or conditions change.

For information contact Betty Fuller @ 318-617-3235.

Fixed Rate Mortgage Myth

By Justin Long

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Whether buying your first family home or purchasing rental property, real estate is a good investment option. However, there is much to consider when budgeting to maintain property. A common assumption is that a fixed rate mortgage will guarantee an exact monthly payment for the entire loan term.  Unfortunately, this is not the case when property taxes and insurance are included in your monthly mortgage payment. Both are fees that will fluctuate throughout the course of your loan term.

Owning a home could be the largest purchase you make in your lifetime. Of course, you would want an asset that valuable insured. But insurance is a business that analyzes risk to assure they are taking in more than they give out. It is likely that during the course of your loan term, there will be periodic increases in your premium.

There are several factors that can contribute to premium increases. Locally, we have seen record breaking floods that have raised premiums and with the expansion of the flood zones, many homeowners may be forced to acquire flood insurance, as an additional policy.

Other factors that can affect your premiums may include, decreasing credit score, adding a home business, aging of the property, adding additions or putting in a swimming pool. It is always a good idea to contact your insurance agent annually to see if any changes have been made to your policy.

As Benjamin Franklin said, “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” We all want good roads to drive on, good schools for our children, parks, libraries, boat launches, policeman, firemen, and teachers. So how do we pay for these amenities and the wages for the community professionals?

Property taxes are the main source of income for all of these necessities and the backbone for city and parish funding.  However, property tax is an ad valorem tax, which means according to value. The amount of property tax you pay is based on the current market value of your land and everything attached thereto. As the real estate market is constantly changing, so can your assessed value, and likewise, your taxes. It may seem unfair that an addition to your home or building a new barn may increase your tax payment, but that’s how the ad valorem tax system has worked for over 200 years.

So, when it comes time to close on that new dream home, you will be quoted an estimate of monthly mortgage payments. This could be done by the lender, real estate agent, closing attorney, title company, etc. Potential homeowners need to ensure that the value used to calculate the property taxes is based on the home’s sale price and not the prior years assessed value. Also, buyers need to ensure homeowners insurance is not based on the previous owner’s premium.

For many real estate transactions, taxes and insurance are miscalculated or overlooked.  This could mean $300-500 in monthly payments that a buyer didn’t include in their budget. The importance of using accurate and honest figures when budgeting for a new home just may prevent your home from being foreclosed on or auctioned at tax sale.

Natchitoches Hometown Hero: Harris Ray Wilson Jr.

By Kevin Shannahan

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Kevin’s Gallery

For more than 20 years, Harris Ray Wilson Jr. has been more widely known throughout the community and indeed the NCAA as “Coach Black.” He is the quintessential NSU Demon sports fan with an encyclopedic knowledge of NSU sports records. He is a fixture at practices and games. You are not really considered a coach at NSU until you have been “fired!” by Coach Black.

Coach Black was honored by The Modern Woodman of America and his beloved NSU Athletic family Aug. 29 at the NSU Fieldhouse for a different reason. He was named a Natchitoches Hometown Hero for his actions during a fire at his grandmother’s home on July 15. When the house fire started, he made it outside and then realized his grandmother and sister were still inside. He went back into the burning house and brought them to safety. The house was a total loss, but thanks to Harris Ray Wilson Jr., no lives were lost.

In addition to his title, the Modern Woodmen of America will donate $100 to the Boys’ and Girls’ Club in his name.  Local attorney and fellow Demon fan Jack Brittain Jr. chose Coach Black to “represent the NSU family” in returning the football that Chris Moore kicked through the goal posts to bring the victory to the Demons in the 2014 football upset against LA Tech.

Harris Ray Wilson Jr. is a true Demon fan and member of the NSU family. On that night in July, he proved himself to be much more. He showed himself to be a man of courage upon whom his family could depend on in the face of danger. Well done, sir!

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National Weather Service Update – Harvey

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Tropical Storm Harvey has made landfall again, this time in Louisiana.  The storm hit just west of Cameron, La. at 4 a.m. local time.

The center issued a storm surge warning for a large section of the state’s coastline, stretching from Holly Beach to Morgan City.

Harvey is expected to cause 3 to 6 inches of rain between the area near the Texas/Louisiana border into western Kentucky, the center says, and warns of “isolated amounts up to 10 inches.”

Harvey is expected to produce additional rainfall accumulations of 6 to 12 inches to the north and east of Houston from far east Texas into southwestern Louisiana. Isolated storm totals will reach 50 inches over the upper Texas coast, including the Houston/Galveston metropolitan area. These rains are currently producing catastrophic and life-threatening flooding over large portions of southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana.

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TRAVEL IN THE AFFECTED AREA IF YOU ARE IN A SAFE PLACE. DO NOT DRIVE INTO FLOODED ROADWAYS.

Please see warnings and products issued by your local National Weather Service office for additional information on this life-threatening situation.
Elsewhere, Harvey is expected to produce total rainfall amounts of 5 to 10 inches across portions of southern Louisiana into coastal Mississippi and Alabama. Rainfall associated with Harvey will spread north by mid to late week, with rainfall amounts of 4 to 8 inches spreading into portions of Arkansas and the Tennessee Valley.

Natchitoches Parish Courthouse – Closures

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Natchitoches Parish Registrar of Voters Office – Closed Wednesday

Natchitoches Parish District Attorney’s Office – Closed Wednesday

Natchitoches Parish Clerk of Court Office – Closed Wednesday

Tenth Judicial District Courts – Closed Wednesday

Natchitoches Parish Tax Assessor – Closed Wednesday

Natchitoches Parish Government – Open

 

NATCHITOCHES PARISH HEAD START CLOSURES

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Due to the potential for severe weather associated with Hurricane Harvey, all Natchitoches Parish Head Start centers will be closed Wednesday, August 30, 2017. The centers will remain closed until further notice. The Head Start center in DeSoto Parish is currently scheduled to open tomorrow for normal operations.

If you have any questions, please contact the Office of Community Services at 318.357.2220.

Rick Nowlin
Parish President

PRESS RELEASE: August 29, 2017

Natchitoches Parish Child Care Centers will close tomorrow

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Natchitoches Parish Child Care Centers will be closed tomorrow (Wednesday)due to inclement weather conditions. We will issue an update as to Thursday at a later time.

Please check with your current Child Care facility if any questions or concerns are present or contact Amy Metoyer, City of Natchitoches at 318-471-5240.

All campuses of Northwestern State University will be closed Wednesday, Aug. 30. 

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“Because of forecasts indicating that Tropical Storm Harvey will create heavy rains and flash floods as it moves into North Louisiana, all campuses of Northwestern State University will be closed Wednesday until further notice,” said NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio.  “We will continue to monitor conditions and forecasts and provide updated information as appropriate.  Updates on the reopening of campuses and other information will be available on the university’s website.”

Information will be available at nsula.edu and via social media outlets.

Natchitoches Parish School will close on Wednesday

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All Natchitoches Parish Schools will be closed tomorrow (Wednesday)due to inclement weather conditions. We will issue an update as to Thursday.

We are committed to acting in the best interest of students and staff, and believe that this closure is necessary to ensure their safety.

Dale Skinner

Part-time Job Fair rescheduled

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Northwestern State University’s Office of Job Location and Development has rescheduled its Part-Time Job Fair for Wednesday, Sept. 13 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Friedman Student Union Ballroom. The event had been scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 31.

There is no charge to participate, but businesses should register by going to ccs.nsula.edu/job-fair-registration.

All majors at NSU are welcome to participate. Students should bring resumes to the job fair.

For more information, contact Karen Loach at loachk@nsula.edu or at (318) 357-5430.

Cleco shores up resources as Tropical Storm Harvey approaches 

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Cleco crews stand ready to respond

Pineville, La., Aug. 30, 2017 – As heavy rain and strong winds begin to impact Cleco’s service territory, Cleco has nearly 100 crews ready to respond to weather related power outages and clear debris that may come into contact with its power lines.

“Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall near Lake Charles early this morning and is expected to cross the state before exiting the northeast corner by Thursday morning,” said James Lass, general manager of distribution operations and emergency equipment. “Cleco line crews and contractor crews are currently responding to reports of scattered outages.”

The path and impact of Tropical Storm Harvey continues to prove unpredictable, and Cleco reminds customers to remain vigilant to ever-changing weather conditions. In the event of flooding, remember to never walk, swim or drive through water. If you come upon flood waters, stop, turn around and go another way.

“The threat for Cleco customers remains flooding,” said Lass. “With additional rain comes an increased possibility that trees will weaken and limbs can fall, impacting our electrical system. In addition to our line crews, we have right-of-way crews to specifically assist with clearing trees and debris from Cleco lines.”

Cleco customers are encouraged to report outages online at cleco.com, via text message or by calling 1-800-622-6537. For up-to-the-minute outage information and restoration efforts, visit Cleco’s Storm Center website http://www.cleco.com/storm-center.

 

Natchitoches community rallies support for Hurricane Victims

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The reality of Hurricane Harvey has proven to be far more devastating than predicted. Rising floodwaters have taken over large parts of Houston, turning streets into rivers that can only be crossed by boat. Meanwhile, many residents of the nation’s fourth-largest city are left stranded. They have nowhere to turn, but the roofs of their homes, waiting for overstretched emergency crews to lend a hand.

As catastrophic flooding continues to devastate Houston and other areas of southern Texas, many individuals have been left with no fresh water. The Baseball Team at ST. Mary’s Catholic School is asking for community help to collecting cases of bottled water for the flood victims affected by Hurricane Harvey.

The school is currently working to partner with a local Catholic church in the Houston area to find a specific drop-off location. Water donations will be collected through Friday, Sept. 1. There will be a designated drop-off area under the front porch of the school, and a group plans to leave for Houston this weekend to deliver fresh water to the victims.

Natchitoches Young Professional member Meagan Cobb will travel to the Livingston/ Houston area on Thursday morning, Aug. 31, to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Donations (food, waters, emergency supplies, etc.) can be dropped off at the Sabine State Bank on Hwy. 1 Bypass. For more information or ways you can help contact Meagan at meagan_bonnette@yahoo.com.

City Council: Are trailers too trashy for neighborhoods?

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It was highly debated, but with a 3:2 vote, the Natchitoches City Council voted against upholding a decision made by Planning and Zoning Commission at its Aug. 1 meeting.

An appeal was addressed at Monday night’s City Council meeting, Aug. 28, requesting a review of the decision to approve the application submitted by Reginald Turner for the placement of two mobile homes at 811 and 813 Anita Street.

“It is ghetto,” said Gracie Claiborne, a resident in the Bailey Heights neighborhood. “We don’t need trailers. It already looks bad enough.”

Harold Bayonne’s mother lives on Anita Street. “These trailers are gonna bring the whole neighborhood down,” he said. “We want the City to look good on both sides. Trailers belong in trailer parks, not invading the integrity of neighborhoods where people care for their community.”

Turner defended himself, saying he was born and raised in the Bailey Heights community. His grandfather built a house on Anita Street.

“I’m a property owner and I take pride in my property,” he said. “It’s not about the money. I’m trying to do something to beautify the community.”

Each Council member spoke their mind on the topic of trailers being allowed into established neighborhoods.

“I have to look at the betterment of the City as a whole,” said Eddie Harrington. “I wouldn’t have as many concerns as I do if this was a primary residence versus a rental property. Mobile homes depreciate at an accelerated rate and rental properties are traditionally not as well taken care of.”

He referenced the Carver Avenue neighborhood where Dr. Rand Metoyer has been buying lots and building new homes on them.

“I’m amazed by what he’s doing to revitalize the area,” said Harrington.

Dale Nielsen said the Council is tasked with making a tough decision on this issue. “In the long term trailers aren’t the best solution, but I have a hard time going against an ordinance when all the requirements are met.”

Don Mims summed it up best when he said that while mobile homes are a viable option for families, the buildings just can’t hang on over time and they don’t need to be placed into neighborhoods.

Juanita Fowler advised the Council that its decision would affect how the City moves forward in regards to mobile home placement. Denying to uphold the Commission’s decision means the City will have to look at amending the ordinance.

“This won’t be the last mobile home request we get,” she said. Mobile homes now meet higher building standards and represent a large part of Natchitoches’ population.

Other agenda items included:
Comply with GASB Statement 54 committing special revenue fund balances

Assign and Assume all rights in lease of lot 3 and 4 of Natchitoches Regional Airport from estate of Kevin Alan McGregor to Diane Danzig, Marlene Gunther and Colleen Deline and authorize Posey to accept donation of an undivided 1/2 interest in the hangers located on said lots and accept the assignment of all rights to the lease

Approve 100 foot easement for passage and utilities across Evans Family property

Advertise for bids for two 69 KV line relay panels

Execute a certificate of substantial completion to the contract between the City and Williams Equipment Services for the Water System Improvements-Phase I

Execute a certificate of substantial completion to the contract between the City and T&D Solutions for the Electrical Distribution along Hwy. 478 to I-49, Phase II

Approve a lease agreement between the City and Marie and Cody Lacaze for the placement of an omnidirectional approach light along the projected centerline of Runway 35 at the Natchitoches Regional Airport

Natchitoches Showcased at the 2017 Upstate Rising Conference

By Kevin Shannahan

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Bossier Parish Community College hosted the 2017 Upstate Rising Economic Development Conference Friday, August 25th. Over 125 public officials, attorneys, real estate professionals and other community leaders attended the all day conference featuring presentations on various economic development areas. The attendees brought a broad range of perspectives focusing on a common goal-improving the economic lot of northern Louisiana. Natchitoches’ Director of Planning and Zoning, Juanita Fowler was one of the conference’s organizers.

Louisiana’s Secretary of Economic Development, Don Pierson, was the keynote speaker. While some of his talk was of unfortunate events, such as the recent news of our state being passed over for consideration to be the site of a new auto plant, he used that loss to illustrate what factors businesses look for in site selection. Factors such as infrastructure, workforce readiness and education levels as well as things that make communities attractive places to live all contribute to business location and expansion decisions. We must learn from this and improve for the future.

Natchitoches’ own Tony Davis gave one of the more dynamic presentations of the conference. Davis, past president of the Natchitoches Chamber of Commerce, BESE Board member and Executive Director of the Natchitoches Community Alliance Foundation, spoke on Natchitoches’ part of “Placemaking and Best Practices From Monroe, Natchitoches and Ruston.” He spoke about the Natchitoches Community Alliance and the need for workforce development, governmental change and the need to expand the area’s economic focus from tourism to a broader more diverse economic base. He talked about the need to have a unified approach to solving problems, rather than divisions between the city and the rest of the parish. His quote of “Meat pies and Steel Magnolias don’t build an economy.” summed up the need to change the way the city and parish do business.

Sibley Lake water levels and the gate in the glory hole

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According to Mayor Lee Posey, his office has received a high volume of calls from Sibley Lake residents who are concerned about the possibility of flooding from future rain events, such as the one Natchitoches is currently facing with Hurricane Harvey. One question is what can be done to lower the water level on Sibley Lake.

After the flooding in March, 2016, Posey met with entities throughout the Parish and state that deal with disaster preparedness to see if something could be done.

The only way to draw down Sibley Lake is through the use of a glory hole that flows into Young Bayou. Built in the 60s, the 4×4 foot gate located at the bottom of the glory hole hasn’t been used on a regular basis. If the gate was opened and for some unforeseen reason, couldn’t be closed, the results could be disastrous. Could it be fixed in time to save the City’s water supply? Is testing it worth the amount of money it would cost to fix it? Is is worth testing it with such high stakes?

Besides skepticism of the gate mechanics still being operational after all these years, there’s an even bigger problem. Opening the gate wouldn’t solve anything. After crunching numbers, it was estimated that the gate will drain approximately 1 foot of water every four days. While Sibley Lake residents may see this as good news, there’s other citizens to take into account. The water that drains into Young Bayou empties into Old River. This would mean putting more water on people further down from the Sibley Lake area.

“It’s gonna hurt someone either way you go,” said Posey. “I’m not in a position to make that call.”

Residents interested in keeping up with water level, rain and other data for Sibley Lake can now go online to www.123MC.com. The City started recording data mid-July with an electronic rain gauge and automatic alarms. If the water level drops or rises too far from pool stage (116 feet above mean sea level) alarms will inform the City of drought or flood situations.

To log in, use the USERNAME: Natchitoches and the PASSWORD: Sibley Lake (include a space between the words).

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New property will facilitate expansion of City’s beautification efforts

City Beautification Expansion

An ordinance introduced at Monday night’s City Council meeting will facilitate the continued use and expansion of the City Nursery. The nursery is located immediately to the North of the property in question, 424 Sixth Street, owned by Paul Khoury and Charles Stephen Wiggins.

The property was appraised for $240,000. The ordinance will authorize Mayor Lee Posey to execute a cash sale deed for $200,000 with acceptance of a donation for the remaining market value of the property ($40,000).

The nursery has been growing more plants in-house over the last 2.5 years at its location on Sixth Street (the old public works facility). With the purchase of a green house and the planned purchase of a shade house, the 2 acres included in this acquisition will provide ample space to install these buildings.

An old beverage distribution facility, there’s a 15,000 square foot climate control warehouse, and another 8,000 square feet worth of office and warehouse space.

This expansion will allow the City to continue growing its beautification efforts, moving it up to levels surpassing what’s been done previously.

Cancer survivor overwhelmed by outpouring of community support

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Wednesday, Aug. 23 was the first day Marilyn Frazier Mullikin went out in public without a wig on. Sitting down to tell the story of her battle with cancer, she smiled with enthusiasm as she touched her short haircut.

“It’s liberating,” she said. “My hair was always a comfort and I hated losing control over it when it began to fall out. My head was in a ‘chemo fog.’ I hated not being in control of my thoughts and actions.”

Marilyn received her last day of radiation certificate from the Northwestern Louisiana Cancer Center May 9 after a 2 year battle with uterine cancer. Of course, the staff was there to cheer her on as she rang the bell in celebration.

“I refer to it as my journey,” she said. “It began the day I received the news ‘you have cancer,’ and my mind went blank.”

But thanks to an outpouring of community support and the devoted staff at the Cancer Center, Marilyn said she was able to fight her way through it.AD-Marilyn

The doctors and Staff at the Cancer Center became her second family. When her journey was first beginning and Marilyn was looking for a place to undergo chemotherapy with Dr. Manish Dhawan and radiation treatments with Dr. Alex Hnatov after having a complete hysterectomy, she knew Natchitoches had the Northwestern Louisiana Cancer Center.

“You can let things get you down and get depressed if you don’t have things to look forward to,” she said. Her church family from First Baptist on Second Street brought her meals and added her to prayer lists. Friends and family sent an outpouring of love which overwhelmed her.

Marilyn was able to form bonds with fellow fighters like the late Sharon Sampite and Mary Ann Nowlin, who she said were a huge inspiration to her. Her own mother Margaret Frazier survived a brain tumor and was there to encourage Marilyn every step of the way.

Her son Clint spent more time at home and her husband Hunter went to every doctors visit and chemo treatment. Even her oldest brother, older than Marilyn by 5 years, came for a visit.

“I’d never had anything in common with him until it came to cancer,” said Marilyn. “We’re both survivors and that’s our bond.”

Marilyn credits her boss, Acting Chamber President Tony Davis and the Chamber staff for being patient with her so she could continue working. She’s been able to work more lately and she’s beginning to think clearly for the first time in months.

“I’m well now,” she said. “It could have been much worse. I saw worse, but I feel blessed. The Cancer Center staff took me under their wing and I appreciate everything they did for me.”

Natchitoches prepares for potential impacts of Tropical Storm Harvey

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Members of the Natchitoches Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness, and Homeland Security, Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office, Natchitoches Parish Government, Natchitoches Police Department, Northwestern State University, Natchitoches Parish District Attorney’s Office, Natchitoches Fire Department, Natchitoches Parish Fire Districts #4, #5, #6, #7, #9, and Natchitoches Parish 911 District attended a National Weather Service webinar in the Natchitoches OEP Office concerning the potential impacts of Tropical Storm Harvey Aug. 28 that’s anticipated to pass through or be near the Natchitoches area on Wednesday and Thursday.

A flash flood watch was extended through 7 pm Thursday for Natchitoches Parish, including the city of Natchitoches. Heavy rainfall, associated with Tropical Storm Harvey located over southeast Texas, will continue to occur within the strong outer rain bands. These heavier rain bands may train over the same areas, increasing the likelihood of flash flooding.

Sandbags are still available and can be picked up at Natchitoches Public Works, 100 Mill Street, Natchitoches between the hours of 8am-4pm.

Always Be Storm Ready, have water, flashlights, batteries, emergency supplies, food, medication, gas, paper towels, lantern, kitchen matches and a Portable Radio on hand for at least 72 hours.