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Mandatory Evacuation To Be Lifted Thursday Morning

Train Derailment, KATC
Train Derailment, KATC

UPDATE: August 7

Residents of Lawtell who were evacuated from their homes will be allowed to return home Thursday. Captain Megan Vizena with the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office says the mandatory evacuation will be lifted August 8 at 8:00 a.m. Residents that are returning home will have to report to the Yambilee Building between the hours of 8:00AM and 7:00PM.

Cleanup at the site continues, but the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) says the most dangerous chemical on the train, vinyl chloride, did not leak and was removed Tuesday. Each household will be escorted home with a deputy and a member of DEQ. Once the DEQ member performs an air quality test of the residence, members of that household will be allowed in.

La. State Police say US 190 in the area will also open tomorrow except for a 1 mile stretch in the westbound lane near the crash site.

A townhall meeting is scheduled for Thursday night, addressing issues and concerns related to the train derailment. Representatives from St. Landry Parish Government, St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Department, the State of Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, and Union Pacific Railroad will be in attendance. It’ll be held at Holy Family Church on 283 Thibodeaux Street (cafeteria) in Lawtell. The meeting begins at 5:00 p.m.

UPDATE: August 6

The following areas are still under an evacuation order due to Sunday’s train derailment in Lawtell:

915-1109 Acadiana Road
132-292 Desiree Road
10716-11276 Highway 90

The Yambilee Building in Opelousas will be open today from 1 pm-7pm. Residents who WILL BE allowed to return home must have proper documentation and identification, and must check in at the Yambilee Building before going back home.

UPDATE:

Governor Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency due to the train derailment.

At least 101 houses have now been evacuated, separating about 40 families from their homes.

A company spokeswoman says one of the railcars was leaking sodium hydroxide, which can cause injuries or even death if it’s inhaled or touches the skin. The other was leaking lube oil. But state police say the leaks were contained. There were two people on the train, an engineer and a conductor. They were not hurt. One person went to the hospital complaining of eye irritation.

That’s according to La. Gov. Bobby Jindal who also says that as the site continues to be assessed, US 190 near the accident site in Lawtell is expected to be closed until sometime on Tuesday.

This information came out as Jindal flew into St. Landry Parish Sunday night to address the situation. The governor also says the residents will not be able to go back to their homes until after the damage has been assessed.

Governor Jindal said, “Our first responders have done a great job, working several hours in a row to ensure this derailment is handled as safely as possible. Obviously, everybody’s first priority is the preservation of life and then secondly, property. The good news is that right now, there are no fatalities and no injuries. Again, I’d like to praise State Police, sheriff’s deputies, first responders, DEQ, DOTD several other state agencies and local officials working together and running toward danger instead of away from it.

“We will remain on the ground and provide resources until this site is safe. We will hold those responsible for the event accountable and ensure they make it right for the people in this area.”

Governor Jindal also provided an update on the train derailment. Fourteen of the 23 derailed cars contain regulated products. One car is leaking lubricant oil, and a second car is leaking a class 8 substance known as caustic soda. State Police and first responders are working on a plan to address a third car carrying a class 9 hazardous substance called Dodecanol. Workers on the ground are using dams and dikes to contain the leaking substances from these cars to prevent further offsite impact.

In addition, there are two cars containing vinyl chloride monomer, with one suffering serious damage to its outer jacket. Neither is leaking vinyl chloride, and Union Pacific contractors are damming off the area in order to further inspect these cars.

The evacuation is expected to remain in order for days, not weeks, and the State Police and Red Cross will soon be assisting evacuees with supported entries so they can retrieve pets, medications and other important items.

The American Red Cross is on scene at the Delta Grand (120 S. Market St., Opelousas, LA 70570) to assist evacuees. So far, 35 families have registered with the Red Cross and four have requested shelter. Union Pacific claims representatives are also en route to assist evacuees and cover expenses. Union Pacific has set up a hotline for more information: 877-877-2567.

There has been no concern from air monitors, and the derailment is not expected to shut down any rail service because of detours in place.

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UPDATE: Captain Megan Vizena with the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office says a 1 mile radius evacuation is being enforced by St. Landry Sheriff Deputies and La. State Police.

Captain Vizena also says there are now about 50 homes that have been evacuated. She says evacuees can receive more information at The Delta Grand Theater, 120 S. Market Street, Opelousas.

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State Police say US 190 is closed in both directions in Lawtell after a train derailed, leaking hazardous materials.

According to our news partners at KATC, 26 cars have been confirmed to have been derailed, “one of which is a flammable liquid some of the cars are carrying corrosive material and flammable materials.”

Authorities at the scene say traffic is being diverted from US 190 eastbound side to LA 103 and US 190 westbound is being diverted to LA 104 to LA 3043. One residence has been evacuated by Troopers, a home on the north side of the train tracks.

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