Winter storm closes parish schools and daycare centers

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Jeremie LeBlanc and Gary Lambert with the City of Gonzales Streets Department place sand and grit atop Burnside Bridge. The site, on the corner of Burnside Avenue and New River Road, is just one that needed attention on Thursday morning to ensure icy conditions were made safe for motorists.

After temperatures began dropping to near freezing levels late Wednesday afternoon, Ascension Parish residents braced for a three-day run of stormy weather, with predicted rain and icy weather.

Thursday morning saw State Police and Gonzales police diverting traffic around icy Interstate 10 overpasses in Ascension Parish. Spokesperson TFC Russell Graham reported no accidents in the parish up to noon Thursday.

Gonzales Police Chief Sherman Jackson said his department recorded one minor accident at Hwy 44 and I-10 earlier in the morning.

The Sunshine Bridge was also shutdown around 2 a.m. due to icy conditions, Graham said. It was re-opened at approximately 7:30 a.m., but had to be closed again and re-sprayed with Glycol and re-salted before traffic was allowed back on the bridge.

Temperatures in Gonzales were in the upper 20’s early Thursday.

Ascension Parish Schools were closed as were most daycare centers and River Parishes Community College. River Parishes Community College-Faculty, staff and students are asked to  continue to check www.rpcc.edu for updates.

Parish and Gonzales City government offices remained open, but the Thursday night Ascension Parish Council and West Ascension Drainage board meetings were rescheduled for next Thursday night in Donaldsonville.

Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency Wednesday for the major winter storm system expected to hit Louisiana and its associated dangerous weather conditions. Jindal also activated the Governors Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Crisis Action Team to monitor the weather and potentially hazardous condition that might develop.

Graham said Troopers were able to were able to shut down icy overpasses and divert traffic for the most part before any accidents occurred. He said several accidents were probably averted by shutting down the overpasses before any accidents happened.

Jackson said his Gonzales police said the storm Wednesday night and Thursday morning came from the direction of Sorrento, moving toward Gonzales. His department diverted traffic from the direction of New Orleans around the overpasses due to the icy conditions.

“I think it might be worse tonight,” Jackson said. “I’ve got all my off-duty guys on standby.”

Gonzales Police had 10 extra officers on duty Wednesday night and Thursday morning in anticipation of the weather.

Temeratures dropped steadily Wednesday, with the Magnolia Assisted Living temperature display on Burnside in Gonzales reading a cold 37-degrees by 3:29 p.m.