Governor Jindal Says State Preparing for Tropical Storm Bonnie
BATON ROUGE (July 22, 2010) - Following a meeting of the state’s Unified Command Group (UCG), Governor Bobby Jindal held a press conference to outline the state’s preparations in response to Tropical Storm Bonnie. Earlier today, Governor Jindal issued an emergency declaration, which will help speed state assistance to parishes in need of supplemental response efforts.
Governor Jindal said, “We want to urge everyone to remain vigilant and monitor their local weather reports throughout the weekend. We encourage everyone to get their emergency supply kits ready and update their evacuation plans. It’s hurricane season and I urge everyone to visit www.GetAGameplan.org right away to make a game plan for their family.
“Business owners should also review their business continuity plans to ensure they can keep contact with their employees and secure vital records. Officials are predicting an above average hurricane season so it’s imperative to get prepared now, even if this particular storm does not significantly build in intensity or end up targeting Louisiana.
“Of course, we are taking the oil spill response measures into account as we are implementing hurricane response plans. For example, the state continues to work with the federal government and BP to adjust their evacuation plans in the event of a storm. We have also adjusted our emergency planning to take into account the complicating factors caused by the oil spill. This includes plans to move response workers and heavy equipment out of the way in the event that we would have to issue a mass evacuation order – which does not seem likely for this storm at this point.
“This morning, the state and the federal Unified Command for the Deepwater Horizon spill conducted a joint tabletop exercise at GOHSEP to prepare for possible storm response operations. GOHSEP also conducted conference calls with coastal parishes and state agencies to coordinate preparedness efforts this afternoon. GOHSEP also sent one of their mobile command units to Calcasieu Parish to help assist them in any response efforts to the storm, as needed.
“A mandatory evacuation is not expected at this time. However, parishes could call for voluntary evacuations for low-lying areas or for citizens who live in mobile homes that may be affected by high winds or storm surge. These voluntary evacuations could be called by parishes as early as late Friday or Saturday, depending on when coastal areas are expected to experience tropical storm force winds.”
At this time, the following parishes have already made emergency declarations: Lafourche, Acadia, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis, St. Mary, and Vermillion.
STATE AGENCY PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS
Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is already on a heightened alert due to the oil spill, and their emergency shelters have been on alert since early May, a month before hurricane season began. They have already conducted multiple readiness and supply checks throughout the summer as part of everyday emergency preparations. Today – DCFS also put their contractors who provide wrap-around services for shelters on alert and began a market-survey to identify available resources that may be needed.
DCFS’s current shelter capacity is 13,770 – including state-run and non-state-run Critical Transportation Needs Shelters, Medical Special Needs and a sex offender shelter. Out of state shelter capacity is 29,000 and includes shelter space in Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Indiana, and Georgia.
DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES (LDWF)
The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will move the Fort Jackson Bird Rehabilitation Center staff and supplies to a new site in Hammond, which will protect staff and those birds that are not ready to be released. LDWF is also preparing to transition from oil reconnaissance missions and fisheries monitoring efforts – which will not be possible in storm conditions – to standby for response efforts. Every agent in the Enforcement Division of LDWF is on alert at this time to respond to any potential tropical storm. Agents in coastal areas are preparing their equipment for transport to safer areas of the state. Agents would be staged at a strategic central location that would be out of harm's way 24 hours in advance of landfall.
The Forward Mobile Command Center was brought back to Baton Rouge from the oil spill operating area and the Forward Mobile Command Center has been prepped and is ready to roll out for tropical storm deployment to serve as a coordination headquarters for possible search and rescue missions. The Enforcement Division has over 200 agents and boats to use in search and rescue operations after the storm – if needed.
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND DEVELOPMENT (DOTD)
DOTD is in contact with BP and will work with them to assess potential evacuation routes and make sure these routes are clear. DOTD is also working with the coordinators of Island Aid and are ready to respond if they need to clear routes for evacuation – should one be ordered.
LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS (LDVA)
The Southeast LA Veterans Home in Reserve and the Southwest Veterans Home in Jennings are on alert because both of these facilities are located South of I-10. During the next 24 hours, both facilities will be conducting patient prep in anticipation of evacuation – should one be needed. Prep includes packing of critical patient items, evaluation of patient condition and transportation planning.
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY (DEQ)
Due to the BP spill, DEQ teams will be assessing the storm-impacted areas for possible oil-related contamination. Emergency Response Teams are on standby to provide a rapid response and environmental assessments in the event an environmental threat or issue develops.
DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATION (DOA)
The Commissioner of Administration, as part of the Unified Command Group, will work in consultation with GOHSEP and parish officials to make timely determinations regarding possible closures to state government offices and facilities.
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS (DHH)
DHH alerted about 70 vendors who work with the state on providing everything from baby formula and beds to refrigerated trucks and bottled water to ensure they have adequate supplies and are ready to meet their contracts. DHH is also assessing availability of ambulances and worked with BP to ensure they will release ambulances from their contracts back to the state to mobilize medical evacuations and be in first-responder statuses as needed. BP assured the state any needed ambulances will be released. DHH will also turn on ambulance staging areas if and when the decision is made that a medical evacuation makes sense – which is not expected at this time.
LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD (LANG)
The Louisiana National Guard’s current oil spill response forces are positioned in coastal areas and prepared to transition to emergency operations as weather conditions dictate. LANG is also alerting additional personnel and preparing equipment as called for in the existing hurricane response plans to provide evacuation, security, search and rescue, engineering, logistics, and commodity distribution support, as needed in storm response efforts.
OFFICE OF JUVENILLE JUSTICE (OJJ)
The Bridge City Center for Youth near New Orleans will evacuate youth to the Jetson Center for Youth in Baker if necessary. Detention centers in south Louisiana are on alert and OJJ will evacuate youth in custody to safer locations inland if it becomes necessary.
OFFICE OF COASTAL PROTECTION AND RESTORATION (OCPR)
OCPR will coordinate with the Army Corps of Engineers as well as area levee and conservation districts to monitor rising water levels to determine appropriate times to close flood and navigation gates on area waterways. Notification of all closures will be sent to the public through this JIC, as needed. OCPR will also coordinate with levee districts and parish EOCs to monitor water levels on area levee systems to determine if additional assets are needed for potential flood fighting from elevated tides, storm surges or rainfall.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS (DOC)
DOC is making contact with parish and local jails to assist them should they decide to evacuate. They will also be assisting Orleans with moving around 400 to 600 inmates to Angola as a precautionary measure in advance of the storm.
LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION (LWC)
If Critical Transportation Needs Shelters and Medical Special Needs Shelters are activated, the Louisiana Workforce Commission is responsible for mass feedings for those housed at such shelters. The LWC team that coordinates the shelter feeding effort met yesterday to outline duties in the coming days if their response is needed. Vendors contracted to provide food for the feedings have been put on alert and are ready to respond as needed.
STAY INFORMED/BE PREPARED
Throughout this storm event, public information will be released through GOHSEP and the state Joint Information Center. Additionally, in the event of a major evacuation in the state, which is not expected at this time, the Louisiana Emergency Alert System will broadcast evacuation information on all participating radio/TV stations for affected areas. A list of hurricane supplies, evacuation information and other critical information can be found on the www.getagameplan.org website.
Preparedness kits include:
- A three to five day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food that won't spoil
- One change of clothing and footwear per person, and one blanket or sleeping bag per person
- A first aid kit that includes prescription medications
- Emergency tools including a battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries
- An extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash or traveler's checks
- Special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members
- And, important family documents in a waterproof container