St. John readies for storm season

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 6, 2005


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE — Hurricane season is now upon us, and St. John the Baptist Parish is taking steps to keep the public informed on the subject.

According to Kathy Gilmore, deputy director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security, there are no new plans implemented specific to St. John, but the office is currently in contact with the state police and the Department of Transportation Development regarding changes to the contraflow plan out of New Orleans.

Last September, during the evacuation for Hurricane Ivan, south Louisiana was marred by frustrating traffic jams, even though the contraflow plan was already in effect.

Reports came in of evacuees stuck in their cars for 12 hours on the way to Baton Rouge.

“We need to see how the changes will affect St. John residents,” Gilmore said, “I think they are going to phase a plan in, so St. John does not have as many traffic problems,” she said.

Gilmore said the office holds educational talks every year with residents of the parish to discuss matters such as these, with the next one taking place at the St. John the Baptist Parish Library in LaPlace on June 23.

The talk will address hurricane evacuation as well as flooding, Gilmore said. According to the emergency preparedness office website, more than 87 percent of St. John Parish has been designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a special flood hazard area.

Randy De Soto, library director, said the public information program will also talk about “parish codes and such” that is important to know for hurricane preparedness.

He also hopes to have a guest speaker attend to talk about the evacuation plan.

De Soto, who said the meeting will begin at 7 p.m., hopes for a good turnout.

“It’s an important thing for people to know about,” he said, “It looks like we’re going to have a pretty active storm season.”