GRETNA, LA (WGNO) Jefferson Parish leaders outlined their plan to protect residents from the extreme cold weather that will grip our area for the next three to four days.

“What’s approaching us is extreme cold weather that we’re just not used to,” Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng told reporters during a late-morning news conference on Thursday (Dec. 22) in Gretna. “We know how to handle floods. We know how to handle hurricanes. But we’re really not used to this extreme cold.”

Sheng declared a state of emergency for Jefferson Parish, saying there are many perils people could face in the days ahead. She said that high winds could bring down trees and then powerlines or send objects flying in the air. Sheng suggested that people bring their Christmas decorations inside.

She’s also concerned about the possibility of water pipes bursting which could lead to low water pressure or even create slick roads.

Sheng is also urging people to use precautions if they use portable heaters or generators.

The parish is still working to help people whose homes were damaged last week during a tornado that tore across the west bank of the parish. She said the parish is continuing to find temporary housing for some of those victims.

The parish will operate warming centers, one on each side of the river. The gymnasiums at Johnny Bright Playground and Terrytown Playground will be open around the clock.

Sheng also says that if any large water mains burst due to the freezing temperatures, combined with the loss of water from people running their faucets, a significant drop in water pressure could lead to a boil water order. So the parish is recommending that people only run faucets if they live in a raised home.