Jul 23, 2010 6:06 PM by Melissa Canone
Today, Governor Bobby Jindal traveled to the Plaquemines Parish Emergency Operations Center (EOC) where he met with Louisiana Sheriffs' Association Executive Director Hal Turner, Parish President Billy Nungesser and first responders for an assessment of state and local preparations for Tropical Depression Bonnie.
Governor Jindal said, "We came to Plaquemines Parish because this area will likely be one of the first to feel the impact of the tropical depression. There are three major items that we're focused on as this storm heads to Louisiana.
"First, we're urging everyone to get prepared now and to ensure they have a game plan. While it's only forecasted to be tropical depression at this point, we know from experience that it's best to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. That's why I encourage everyone to visit www.getagameplan.org right away so people are prepared should this storm strengthen. As we enter the height of hurricane season, it just makes sense for our people to be ready and prepared.
"Second, obviously we have concerns about the storm's impact on the oil in the Gulf - and we are taking the oil spill response measures into account as hurricane response plans are implemented. We're doing everything we can to minimize and mitigate the impact of the oil on our coastline. For instance, we continue to work with the federal government and BP to adjust their evacuation plans in the event of a storm.
"Third and finally, we're strongly encouraging people to please stay updated on local weather reports. As we know, storms can quickly strengthen and change directions so it's critical for our people to remain vigilant and be ready to implement their game plans."
Yesterday, Governor Jindal issued an emergency declaration to help speed state assistance to parishes in need of supplemental response efforts. Many parishes have already declared a state of emergency, including: Assumption, St. John, Lafourche, Livingston, Terrebonne, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John, St. Tammany, Terrebonne, Acadia, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, St. Mary, Vermillion and East Baton Rouge.
Six parishes are planning to make a decision about declaring a state of emergency by today, including: Jefferson, Orleans, Washington, Evangeline, Iberia, and St. Martin.
Lafourche Parish is planning for voluntary evacuations for low lying areas only at this time and they will open a parish shelter if needed. Plaquemines Parish is planning to voluntary evacuation for low-lying areas and they will use the Belle Chasse Auditorium as a shelter and request Red Cross support, as needed. St. Charles Parish will likely call for a voluntary evacuation for low-lying areas as well as the West Bank area outside of the levee protection. The parish plans to stand up one shelter and request Red Cross assistance, as needed.
Acadia, Calcasieu, and Cameron, and St. Martin parishes are also planning to call for voluntary evacuations for low-lying areas and mobile homes. All parishes will announce the timeline for these voluntary evacuations based on their own response timelines and the development of weather conditions. Other parishes are continuing to monitor the storms development and stand up any needed shelter space within the parish as their evacuations may necessitate.
STATE AGENCY PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS
DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES (DCFS)
The state's critical needs (CTN) and medical special needs (MSN) shelters continue to be on heightened alert. DFCS is also in the process of ensuring that all supplies for CTN and MSN shelters, such as water, MREs, etc., have been replenished with fresh supplies. DFCS is working with 211 to ensure the latest information is available to people who call to have questions answered regarding the tropical depression.
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 FortJackson bird rehabilitation center has been re-located in Hammond. This move was accomplished by the BP contractor operating the center. All bird rescue missions from Grand Isle eastward will be concluded by 1 PM today.
Every agent in the state is on Wildlife alert at this time to respond to any potential tropical depression. Agents on alert are getting their equipment fueled and loaded up for potential transport to a staging area.
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND DEVELOPMENT (DOTD)
DOTD is staging assets, securing facilities, and placing personnel on standby for work over the weekend. The complete closure of the I-10 Mississippi River Bridge, originally scheduled for this coming Sunday, July 25, has been canceled due to the threat of the tropical depression. This closure will be rescheduled and DOTD will give notice once that new date is confirmed.
LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS (LDVA)
Patient assessments at the Southeast LA Veterans Home in Reserve (St. James Parish) have been completed. In the event of an evacuation, 68 patients have been identified for transport to the Northeast LA Veterans Home in Monroe and 81 patients have been identified for transport to the LA Veterans Home in Jackson.
Patient assessments at the Southwest LA Veterans Home in Jennings are still underway. Back-up generator testing has been completed at all facilities as of this morning and all testing was successful.
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY (DEQ)
Due to the BP spill, DEQ EA teams also will be assessing the hurricane-impacted areas for possible oil-related contamination.
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS (DHH)
DHH is sending out a message for nursing homes and hospitals to prepare for two-times-a-day reporting, in the event that any assistance in evacuations may be needed from the state. They also asked all nursing homes to fuel their generators.
LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD (LANG)
The Louisiana National Guard's current oil spill response forces are positioned in coastal areas and are prepared to transition to emergency operations as weather conditions dictate. LANG is alerting additional personnel and preparing equipment as called for in their existing hurricane response plans to provide evacuation, security, search and rescue, engineering, logistics, and commodity distribution support. LANG has 30 high water vehicles and 19 available aircraft staged
OFFICE OF COASTAL PROTECTION AND RESTORATION (OCPR)
OCPR has closed both the Caernarvon (St. Bernard) and Davis Pond (St. Charles) Freshwater Diversions in accordance with standard operating procedures during tropical storms and hurricanes. Diversions will be reopened when water levels return to normal following the storm.
OCPR is coordinating with the 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. Closures of floodgates on area waterways in St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, Lafourche and Terrebonne are expected as water levels rise over the next 24-36 hours.
OCPR is coordinating 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)
The Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff's Office is self-evacuating 360 DOC offenders to be housed at Angola.
Visitation at many state correctional facilities for Saturday and Sunday, July 24-25, is canceled due to the impending storm. Wardens can make special exceptions for people traveling from out of state, but offenders were informed of this decision yesterday and were to inform their family and friends of the cancellation. State correctional facilities affected by the cancelation include: Rayburn Correctional Center (Angie), Elayn Hunt Correctional Center and Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women (St. Gabriel), Dixon Correctional Institute (Jackson), Louisiana State Penitentiary (Angola), Avoyelles Correctional Center (Cottonport), Allen Correctional Center (Kinder), C. Paul Phelps Correctional Center (DeQuincy) and J. Levy Dabadie Correctional Center (Pineville). Weekend visiting will proceed normally at the following institutions: DavidWadeCorrectionalCenter (Homer), ForchtWadeCorrectionalCenter (Keithville) and WinnCorrectionalCenter (Winnfield).
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES (DNR)
DNR is building up fuel supplies. An Executive Order will be issued to expedite fuel delivery.
LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION (LWC)
LWC is temporarily pulling back mobile units. LWC also says they are prepared to provide 37,000 hot meals within eight hours should the need arise.
STAY INFORMED/BE PREPARED
Throughout this storm event, public information will be released through GOHSEP and the state JointInformationCenter. 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