Isaac caused less chaos than Gustav
After Hurricane Gustav hit Louisiana in 2008, East Baton Rouge Parish’s first-responders were handling the storm’s residual effects weeks later.
After Hurricane Isaac, not so much.
City and parish authorities said calls for service hardly jumped during Isaac, which made landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 28 and made its strongest impact in East Baton Rouge Parish about a day later.
During Gustav, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office handled about 1,000 calls a day during the first few days of the storm, in addition to a large number of high-water rescues, sheriff’s spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said. The call volume slowly tapered off after that, she said.
For Isaac, the Sheriff’s Office handled about 780 calls the day the storm hit, but call volume dropped quickly and there were no high-water rescues, Hicks said.
Baton Rouge police said that after Gustav in 2008, they were responding to more than 900 calls a day for service, or about 200 more than average. On Sept. 1, 2008, when Gustav made landfall, that figure was around 1,300, police said.
Police Cpl. Tommy Stubbs did not have specific figures about calls for service during Isaac, but he said most calls police handled were related to minor incidents, such as fallen trees, power outages and burglar alarms going off.
“The storm really didn’t have the impact that everybody thought it would have,” Stubbs said of Isaac’s effects in Baton Rouge. “It wasn’t like Gustav, where the city pretty much lost power and everything was shut down.”
Police stopped working extended 12-hour shifts for the storm at 6 a.m. Aug. 31, Stubbs said. Sheriff’s deputies stopped working 12-hour shifts after Aug. 30, Hicks said.
Interim Department of Public Works Director David Guillory said his office had to fix more than 200 damaged traffic signals, in addition to dealing with blocked roads and debris.
T hat wasn’t nearly as bad as Gustav, Guillory said.
“With the Gustav situation, we had 100 percent power outage, so it was much more chaotic,” he said.
Crime didn’t spike much either as a result of Isaac, local officials said.
At least 16 people were arrested for violating the parishwide curfew that went into effect from 6 p.m. Aug. 29 to 6 a.m. Aug. 30, and six others were arrested and accused of looting during Isaac, Parish Prison records show.
However, nothing was out of the ordinary, Hicks said.
“For the most part, the community followed the curfew, and we saw very low incidents of crime during the curfew,” Hicks said.
LSU sociology professor Edward Shihadeh said violent crime usually dips during a storm because human interaction is minimal while everybody stays inside.
Spikes in crime are far more likely after a storm, Shihadeh said. However, he said, Isaac didn’t cause enough damage in Baton Rouge to have an effect on crime.
“Maybe in Plaquemines Parish and those areas, there could be (a spike), maybe sometime afterward when people start to pick up the pieces, but not in Baton Rouge,” Shihadeh said.
Robert Stewart is a general-assignment reporter for The Advocate. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.