As Hurricane Isaac lashes New Orleans this morning, campgrounds in Louisiana not in immediate danger are housing some storm evacuees.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm’s center early today (Aug. 29) was about 50 miles south-southwest of New Orleans and moving slowly. The storm came ashore in southern Louisiana on Tuesday.
Some campgrounds around Lafayette are playing host to residents from Southeast Louisiana fleeing from Isaac’s path, The Advertiser, Monroe, La., reported.
Visitors started arriving Monday at the KOA Campground in Lafayette according to Kristan Lorraine, the site’s office manager.
“We are getting a few. We’re not packed,” she said. “It’s not as full as (Hurricane) Katrina.”
Most of the visitors are coming from Laplace, Metairie and south of New Orleans, Lorraine said.
She was still receiving inquiries Tuesday morning. Some of her guests were undecided what to do.
“Some are choosing to sit around here till noon to decide if they’re going to go further west,” Lorraine said.
At Bayou Wilderness Resort in Carencro, people from the New Orleans area have been calling and coming in since Sunday, said Ramona Benton, the campground’s office manager. Bayou Wilderness still had space available as of Tuesday.
Officials at the Kisatchie National Forest in the central part of the state want people to know that its campgrounds are not hurricane evacuation sites, The Associated Press reported.
Some people who left south Louisiana ahead of Hurricane Isaac showed up at the forest’s Winn Ranger District, hoping to camp out, and were sent to the state shelter in Alexandria, forest spokeswoman Amy Robertson said Tuesday.
All of the Winn District’s recreation areas are closed until further notice.
“When the weather gets to be bad, we can’t let people stay because then it becomes an issue of ‘Would they be trapped?'” she said.
The forest includes five separate districts with land in seven central and north parishes — Rapides, Grant, Natchitoches, Vernon, Winn, Webster and Claiborne.
Meanwhile, Louisiana State Parks aren’t taking Hurricane Isaac evacuees yet, but they remain an option if needed.
Johnson, deputy secretary for Louisiana State Parks, said Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne has offered the facilities as potential havens from the storm, the Monroe Star-News reported.
“It’s certainly been discussed and is on the table, but there hasn’t yet been the demand for it,” Johnson said. “Should the need arise, the parks will absolutely be made available.”
The state first began offering its parks free for evacuees with Hurricane Katrina in 2007 and have since opened them for other storms.
“Katrina set the precedent,” Johnson said. “We used all of our cabins and group camps for an extended period of time during that hurricane.
“But so far we haven’t had massive evacuation notices for Isaac. There are a lot of midweek vacancies now, so we certainly would have some room if it’s needed.”
Johnson said 10 parks and historic sites in southern Louisiana have already been closed and more could be closed depending on the severity of the storm.
“We’re watching the path and the intensity,” he said. “ As it goes north we’ll determine if we need to close any more of the parks.”