St. Charles Parish officials hope new weather tech will help in storm response and recovery

ST. CHARLES PARISH (WVUE) – It’s been nearly one year since Hurricane Ida made landfall and many are still trying to rebuild. In St. Charles Parish, officials are preparing ahead of the next big storm. They say a new interactive weather station will not only help parish officials with response, but help residents in recovery.

“This is one of 20 weather stations we’ve put out throughout the parish we use internally to help us make decisions when we have severe weather,” said St. Charles Parish President Matthew Jewell. “So whether that’s being able to monitor rain rates and rain accumulations and being able to use that information when we’re engaging our pumping stations or whether we’re in extreme heat advisories and we need to make sure our employees are aware who are working out in the field.”

Jewell said the new weather station technology by WeatherSTEM was installed at the parish’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), thanks to a grant from the Department of Homeland Security – State Homeland Security Program (SHSP), “which provides funding that supports the implementation of instrumentation dedicated to enhancing resilience against manmade and natural disaster threats.”

He said it will not only help parish officials in making real-time decisions but it’s also public facing, meaning residents will have access to the technology as well.

“One of the big things we saw last year during Hurricane Ida is these insurance companies telling our residents that the weather never got as bad as it did or the wind didn’t get above 80 or 90 mph which simply wasn’t true,” said Jewell.

The new weather station will also store data from past weather events that officials and residents can access.

“This weather station here is ready for 180 mph winds, we have backup generation on it so we know we will be able to collect data from this weather station, we know it’s not going to go down and we know we can give residents the information they need to help fight these insurance companies who are really trying to work over some of these residents.”

When it comes to recovery in St. Charles Parish, Jewell said it’s a long process.

About 80 percent of it got done pretty quickly, and I feel like we’re in that last 20 percent, which is just a day-to-day battle,” he said. “Whether you’re battling with your insurance company or a contractor, or if you didn’t get enough from your insurance company, now it’s not enough to cover materials under this inflation. It’s a constant battle and I think this last 20 percent is going to take a while but we’re taking it one day at a time and that’s just how you gotta get through it.”

In addition to the new weather system, Jewell said the parish is working to repair and enhance all of its technologies and response tools ahead of any major storm that might arise this hurricane season.

“We’re trying to beef up all of our repairs so that they can withstand a Hurricane Ida type of event and we’re also working on a lot of resiliency and redundancy in our critical infrastructure to make sure that when I storm hits, those critical infrastructures don’t go down and we can remain more resilient during the future.”

The weather station offers free weather education for those interested in learning about meteorology and weather events. Click here for more.

Published: Jul. 16, 2022 

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