No evacuation ordered in St. Bernard Parish; WWL-TV web site incorrectly reported residents asked to leave an area
Sheriff James Pohlmann said there is no evacuation ordered in St. Bernard Parish, which was incorrectly reported by the WWL-TV web site on Friday afternoon.
The web site said St. Bernard residents were being evacuated east of Braithwaite, which is in Plaquemines Parish, because of a leaking chlorine tank.
Neither the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office or parish government had ordered an evacuation of any type in St. Bernard on Friday, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
St. Bernard Fire Chief Thomas Stone said there is no chlorine leak.
St. Bernard residents evacuated due to leaking chlorine tank
St. Bernard Parish evacuating residents and media in a half mile radius along Highway 39 east of Braithwaite after a leaking chlorine tank was found floating in the Mississippi River.
Officials describe it as a 1200 pound chlorine tank which they have secured to a fence so it is no longer floating free. Hazmat teams just arrived to assess the danger. The tank is near the roadblock on hwy 39 on the east side of Braithwaite and west of St Bernard Park.
A Chalmette man who had offered a neighbor his cell phone to call police when she came home from evacuating Hurricane Isaac to find she was burglarized, was arrested as the culprit a short time later, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
John Canale Jr., 28, 2905 Palmisano Blvd., will be booked with looting the home of a couple who lived nearby and had left for the hurricane, the sheriff said. He was taken into custody about 1 p.m. Thursday.
But Canale, who will also be booked with possession of firearms by a convicted felon, was taken to a hospital by ambulance for treatment of a possible overdose when he admitted he had used heroin.
Numerous guns stolen in the burglary, along with jewelry, money and other items were recovered in Canale’s residence during a search by sheriff’s detectives, said Sheriff Pohlmann, who said good police work led to the arrest.
Detectives developed Canale as a suspect after talking with him when they were investigating the case.
Hurricane Isaac caused more damage than expected including loss of electricity for thousands of homes but St. Bernard had no flooding despite heavy rain
Hurricane Isaac, a Category 1 hurricane but one packed with rains of more than a foot, left a definite impression on St. Bernard Parish and other parishes in the New Orleans area. It left thousands of homes without electricity – some with structural damage – and numerous downed trees, power lines and fences.
But fortunately for St. Bernard, Sheriff Jsmes Pohlmann said, there was no flooding inside the hurricane levee protection system despite the heavy rains,
“We didn’t expect this much trouble from a Category 1 hurricane,” Pohlmann said. “But we came away with fewer problems that many other parishes and fortunately there weren’t any reports of injuries from the storm.’’
There were numerous downed trees, tree limbs, power lines and debris strewn about roads by the winds. Parish government crews were already working to remove downed trees and eliminate debris.
Sheriff’s deputies, along with the parish Fire Department and National Guard personnel, also helped Plaquemines Parish authorities rescue more than 100 people from severely flooded homes in the Braithwaite area on the East Bank of Plaquemines early Wednesday after a breach in the Caernarvon Canal.
Many of the residents, some carrying pets, were brought to the St. Bernard Parish Prison and given shelter until they could make plans to go to the homes of friends or family.
Also, temporary quarters being used for St. Bernard’s 34th Judicial District Court on West Judge Perez Drive while repairs are made to the old Courthouse sustained major damage to a roof overnight Tuesday. That caused rainwater damage to several courtrooms and the district attorney’s office.
Court isn’t expected to be held through the Labor Day holiday on Monday, officials said.
There were also several fires during Isaac, which was downgraded to a Tropical Storm on Wednesday afternoon. At least one was related to the storm when winds blew down a tree on a power line, starting an attic fire to a house at Center Street and West Judge Perez Drive in Arabi. Firefighters responded quickly and no one was injured.
Pohlmann said he was pleased that there was much cooperation between parish government, including President David Peralta and the Parish Council, and the Sheriff’s Offiice, in the period leading up to the hurricane and during the actual experience.
Peralta said that despite the electricity loss and other problems, St. Bernard’s reaction to the storm “was extremely successful.’’
He said, “Obviously the federal risk reduction levee system around St. Bernard worked very well. There was no flooding’’ inside the levee system and water went out quickly outside the levee system.’’
Peralta also emphasized the good cooperation between parish entities, especially government and the Sheriff’s Office, which worked together on deciding curfews and shared resources. “I think cooperation helps put the people of the parish at ease.’’
St. Bernard Sheriff announces parishwide curfew from 8 p.m. today to 6 p.m. Wednesday because of expected heavy rains and wind from Hurricane Isaac; Curfew in effect now for areas outside hurricane levee system which was ordered evacuated Monday
St. Bernard Parish Sheriff James Pohlmann has announced a parishwide curfew from 8 p.m. today to 6 p.m. Wednesday because of expected heavy rains and wind from Isaac, which was elevated to a hurricane today.
Also, the curfew went into effect immediately and will be in effect for more than 24 hours for areas outside the hurricane protection levee system in eastern St. Bernard, which Parish President David Peralta ordered a mandatory evacuation on Monday, Pohlmann said.
“We will begin a curfew at 8 p.m. inside the levee system, which gives any businesses still open time to take care of customers who need items in preparation for the hurricane,’’ Pohlmann said.
But a curfew will be in effect at 8 p.m. tonight and all day Wednesday to 6 p.m. “out of concern for public safety’’ as St. Bernard Parish experiences heavy rains and winds from Hurricane Isaac, the sheriff said.
Rains of 13-18 inches are possible over the next several days, , according to the National Weather Service, which would cause street flooding, Pohlmann said. Combined with winds that could be 80 mph it creates a situation” where we don’t want anyone on the streets,’’ the sheriff said.
Sheriff Pohlmann said he understands. “There is a level of anxiety created when a hurricane is coming so close to the parish. After our experience with Hurricane Katrina, no one wants to go through it again.’’
He added, “And it raises the anxiety level higher when this hurricane is making landfill on the anniversary of Katrina, further bringing up memories of that tragedy for our parish.
“Good luck to everyone affected by Hurricane Isaac.’’
“The Sheriff’s Office is cooperating with Parish President Peralta and the Parish Council and are prepared for the storm,” the sheriff said.
“We have everything in place and everyone has their assignment,’’ he said of deputies.
Sheriff’s deputies will continue to patrol, assisted by the Louisiana National Guard which will provide high-water vehicles in St. Bernard, Sheriff Pohlmann said. Deputies were instructed, he said, that while on patrol in subdivisions they should drive slowly through water to make sure they don’t create higher water for resident’ homes.
Wind was up to nearly 50 mph at Shell Beach in easternmost St. Bernard late Tuesday and water was rising on the roadways also outside the levee syste
STORM UPDATE: St. Bernard Parish Government calls for mandatory evacuation of residents living outside the Hurricane Protection Levee in the eastern-most part of parish
St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta has called for a mandatory evacuation of residents living outside the Hurricane Protection Levee in the eastern-most part of the parish because of the likelihood of rising water from Tropical Storm Isaac.
The Sheriff’s Office has established monitoring of the roadway at Verret near the floodgate in eastern St. Bernard Parish, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
The St. Bernard Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness is in full operation and will remain open until all weather associated threats have diminished. Residents may call the St. Bernard OEP Office at 504-278-4268.
Both Pohlmann and Peralta had urged residents who have property and boats outside the hurricane protection levee to secure what they had to to and get out before water started to rise.
The sheriff said the parish can likely expect heavy rains that will make driving difficult and dangerous and he urged residents who are riding out the storm to stay inside once heavier wind and rains begin, unless absolutely necessary.
Personnel from the Louisiana National Guard will have heavy-water units in St. Bernard to assist law enforcement in the parish, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
The Sheriff’s Office gave out thousands of sandbags at its sandbag barn at the rear of the Port of St. Bernard to parish residents and businesses on Monday,. The line of vehicles to get the bags of sand stretched out massively.
Sheriff Pohlmann, who was on the scene for a while as he went from one place to another,, said residents have come to use sandbags for both protecting low spots from water and for propping doors to prevent them from being damaged by wind.
St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office to give out sandbags to parish residents or business from noon to 6 p.m. today at the rear of the Port of St. Bernard in Chalmette
Sheriff James Pohlmann said the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office is giving out free sandbags from noon to 6 p.m. today to parish residents and businesses at its sandbag barn in the old Kaiser facility at the rear of the Port of St. Bernard in Chalmette.
Pohlmann said, “We have some 35,000 sandbags that have been pre-made by prison work crews and are stockpiled at the rear of the Port at our sandbag barn and we will give out up to 15 sandbags per resident or business from noon to 6 p.m.”
Motorists can enter the road to the port off West St. Bernard Highway at Keane Drive, next to the old Kaiser smokestack, and follow the road to the rear of the port, near the Mississippi River levee.
Sheriff’s deputies will be there to assist people, Pohlmann said.
People should be prepared to show they are a resident of St. Bernard or have a business here, Pohlmann said.
St. Bernard Parish President Peralta declares State of Emergency ahead of Tropical Storm Isaac; Sheriff Pohlmann also monitoring storm and S.O. staff met Sunday and will do so again on Monday morning
St. Bernard Parish President David E. Peralta issued an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency as a result of the forecasted conditions of Tropical Storm Isaac.
Sheriff James Pohlmann also is monitoring the storm and the Sheriff’s Office command staff Sunday afternoon and will do so again Monday morning at 10 a,m,, the sheriff said.
President Peralta stated the parish officials are in constant communications with the National Weather Service and surrounding key agencies to monitor the current weather situation. Pohlmann said the Sheriff’s Office is taking part in meetings with the parish government Office of Emergency Preparedness and participated in a telephone conference with the National Weather Service, along with parish officials on Sunday afternoon.
No mandatory evacuation has been called in St. Bernard as of Sunday night. Isaac is expected to become a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico and the National Weather Service was forecasting Sunday the storm making landfall on the Mississippi Gulf Coast late Tuesday night or Wednesday morning but the possible track is still fluid.
Heavy rains are likely.
Residents who intend to leave should do so before traffic jams become a concern.
Peralta and Pohlmann urged St. Bernard residents to continue monitoring the weather and media updates. “Although the integrity of our levee system is better than it has ever been, we want citizens to implement their individual emergency preparation plans,” Peralta said.
Currently, St. Bernard Parish is operating at full drainage and pumping capacity. President Peralta said “Drainage canals have been pumped down to add additional storage capacity.” Public Works’ crews are implementing all emergency preparation plans and pre-staging additional pumps for problem areas, he said.
The St. Bernard Parish Emergency Operations Center will be in full operation as of 8:00 a.m. Monday morning, Aug. 27, 2012 and shall remain open until the termination of the State of Emergency.
Pohlmann and Pohlmann encouraged people to secure items on their their property as soon as possible and anyone owning boats in the eastern part of the parish outside the hurricane protection levee system should secure them no later than Monday afternoon. Marine traffic should seek safe harbor.
Also, pick up any debris that may cause obstructions to the drainage catch basins in their neighborhoods.
Residents can call Emergency Operations Center at 504-278-4268 or stay tuned to local media for updates as well as frequently checking the Sheriff’s Office web ste at www.sbso.org or parish government’s website at www.sbpg.net.
Deputy Chief Harold Hughes retires after 28 years as Internal Affairs head for S.O.; Was retired FBI agent when he began in 1984 with Sheriff Stephens’ 1st term
It became a phrase Harold Hughes was known for, saying numerous times over the years in meetings with senior staff at the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office: “Tell your guys to work smart.”
As a Deputy Chief in charge of Internal Affairs, for 28 years Hughes has interviewed, checked backgrounds and evaluated applicants for the Sheriff’s Office and also investigated any citizen complaints about their treatment by sheriff’s deputies.
He said what he meant by advising officers to work smart was to “treat people they came in contact with like you would want to be treated by them.”
In other words, be courteous, don’t curse people even if they have committed crimes and don’t use excessive force in making arrests. That’s the way to stay out of trouble while still being a hard-nosed sheriff’s deputy with your eyes open for law-breakers, Hughes said.
A soft-talking, retired 25-year FBI agent who also worked for two years before that as a policeman in Columbus, Ms., in the late 1950s, Hughes is now retiring from the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office.
What began as an intended short stay to help new Sheriff Jack A. Stephens organize his department in 1984, turned into a contract renewed each year to be head of Internal Affairs.
Stephens took office for his first term as sheriff on July 1, 1984, and Hughes was there ever since.
Sheriff Stephens didn’t run for a new term last year and Hughes is retiring under new Sheriff James Pohlmann who took office July 1.
David Welker, who recently retired as head of the FBI’s New Orleans office, will do Internal Affairs work on a contract with the Sheriff’s Office, Pohlmann said.
At a staff meeting on Aug. 23, Sheriff Pohlmann praised Hughes’ work as helping bring a higher standard of expected performance by sheriff’s deputies and rank.
“He has provided the platform to build this department,’’ the sheriff said.
In a signature action, Hughes – through his association with his former agency – helped get the FBI to accept for the first time a ranking deputy from St. Bernard into the prestigious FBI National Training Academy class in Virginia.
The first appointment from St. Bernard was Dep. Richard Bersuder in 1986.
Now, 26 years later, the Sheriff’s Office has had 17 deputies graduate from the FBI National Training Academy, including Sheriff Pohlmann, and an 18th is scheduled to go there in September, Capt. Richard Jackson.
The sheriff said he sees the number from the department as quite an accomplishment for one the size of the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office. Nearly the entire command staff of the Sheriff’s Office is now made up of graduates from the FBI Training Academy.
Pohlmann presented Hughes with two plaques, one for his service to the Sheriff’s Office and one listing the names of St. Bernard officers who graduated from the national training academy.
Hughes said he was grateful for the honors. But he also recalled he “didn’t really want to come here in 1984.’’
He had retired in January 1984 from the FBI – where one if his investigations had included the well known Brilab case of the late 1970s through early 80s in which then-rackets figure and now deceased Carlos Marcello was convicted and sentenced to prison.
Hughes also had begun doing work for the Jefferson District Attorney’s Office, which he continued to do for 13 years while also on contract at the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office.
His former FBI boss asked him to help the new sheriff in St. Bernard reorganize the department but he didn’t really want to do it, he said.
Sheriff Stephens, however, talked him into doing assessments of the deputies on the department in 1984 and later the sheriff asked him to stay on as head of Internal Affairs on a contract basis. That went on for the entire tenure of Stephens’ seven terms in office.
“I didn’t know much about St. Bernard’’ when he started at the Sheriff’s Office, said Hughes, who has lived in Algiers with his wife
But he said he came to appreciate and understand the close-knit atmosphere of the parish and its residents.
“I like them.”
Two male teen-agers, 17 and 15, booked in numerous vehicle burglaries that happened Aug. 18 in Arabi
Two male teen-agers, 17 and 15, have been arrested in connection with 13 vehicle burglaries that happened in Old Arabi, between St. Claude Avenue and the Mississippi River, in the early morning hours of Saturday, Aug. 18, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
A witness who heard noise after 4 a.m. came outside and saw vehicles being burglarized, saw a suspect and called the Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies arrived and found Michael Staes, 17, who has relatives in St. Bernard but has been living in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans, hiding behind a garbage can in the area of the burglaries, Sheriff Pohlmann said. I Staes was carrying on him several items reported taken in burglaries, the sheriff said. Recovered property included a phone, a bracelet, silver coins and other items.
Staes, who just turned 17 and has no previous criminal record as an adult, was initially booked with six counts of vehicle burglary but seven additional counts have been added after he admitted to the string of burglaries, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
He said Staes was being held in St. Bernard Parish Prison in lieu of bond of $69,000 but the bond will likely go higher when he appears before a judge on the added burglary counts.
Also, further investigation by sheriff’s detectives led to a 15-year Chalmette boy, whose name wasn’t released because he is a minor. The teen-ager was also booked on 13 counts of vehicle burglary and was placed in the parish Juvenile Detention Center, Pohlmann said.
The sheriff noted that nearly all of the vehicles involved were left unlocked and again urged residents to lock their vehicle at night, even in their driveways.
Some people have been known to walk down streets at night pulling on door handles, hoping to find unlocked vehicles with valuables inside. Sheriff Pohlmann also suggests gun owners who normally have weapons in their vehicles for protection to take them inside at night and lock them up.
“Don’t make it easy for thieves to take your property and especially try to prevent stolen guns from hitting the streets where they can be used in other crimes,”” Sheriff Pohlmann said.
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise of Jefferson Parish visited St. Bernard Parish on Wednesday, Aug. 15, taking part in a reception and a dinner in Chalmette. He is shown discussing federal issues affecting St. Bernard with Parish President David Peralta and Sheriff James Pohlmann. Photo by Lenor Duplessis.