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Lake Charles, Apres le Deluge

The damage from the 2005 hurricanes in Lake Charles, La. prompted the city to renovate playgrounds in seven parks and include shade structures that, according to the manufacturer, have a "sturdy hurricane-rated metal frame" and fasteners that makes it easy to remove the canopies in case of high winds or hurricanes and then reattach.

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It was a couple tough months for Lake Charles, Louisiana back in 2005--Hurricane Katrina in August, followed by Hurricane Rita in September. Situated between Houston and New Orleans, Lake Charles is home to the sandy beaches of the Calcasieu River and just 30 miles upstream from the Gulf of Mexico. Lake Charles is connected to the gulf by a deep-water shipping channel, which gave the 2005 hurricanes direct access to the city.

Lake Charles received $10.9 million in recovery aid from FEMA. This money was used to rebuild fire and police stations, the Lake Charles Civic Center and such public amenities as park and rec facilities.

From August 2008 to the end of July, the city of Lake Charles completed over $3 million in park and rec improvements, including $1.9 million in bond funds for the "7 Park Improvement" program.
Images: Shade Systems, Inc.

Shade, Blessed Shade

This part of the country tends to be hot and "sticky," so when considering rebuilding park and recreation facilities, shade becomes a priority. Shade structures of course provide protection from the damaging effects of 99 percent of the harmful ultraviolent rays and their related skin cancers. It is estimated that one in five people in the U.S. will develop skin cancer. Under the shade structures, children experience temperatures 15-20 degrees lower that uncovered areas.

The city heavily invested in playground infrastructure and in shade protection for seven-parks: Wiley McMillan Community Center & Park; Martin Luther King Jr. Park; PFC Wilfred Bellard Memorial Park; Lock Park; Lagrange Soccer Field; W.H. Buddy Prejean Memorial Park; and University Park.

There are many different types of shade structures for park and playground use, however, a primary consideration was structures that could hold up under the winds and storms the city experiences every year.

Pat Moore of Moore Planning Group led the vendor selection for the city.

Aesthetics, durability, warranty and the ease of removing and reattached the shade structures were all considerations. The city chose a custom "sail" system manufactured by Shade Systems, Inc. of Ocala, Fla. The structures are supported by stainless steel connections and hardware.

Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach and his staff expressed satisfaction with the shade structures that will allow children to get in more playtime during midday hours.

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December 14, 2019, 8:00 am PDT

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