Special plans in works for new hurricane year

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – While the River Parishes were spared the worst from last year’s devastating storms, the St. John Office of Emergency Preparedness has kept focus on what’s important in this upcoming Hurricane Season: having a plan.

Hurricane season begins June 1, and while past evacuations in St. John have flowed fairly smooth according to Emergency Preparedness director Paul Oncale, the influx of people within the parish who are now settled in travel trailers has prompted the office to create shelters for those people to go for a tropical storm or category 1 or 2 hurricane.

&#8220We’re working with the school board to establish what we call relocation points,” Oncale said. &#8220We want to get people to a more stable environment and structure rather than the trailers or mobile homes.”

Another concern for Oncale is for those people who have no means of transportation to seek out shelter. Emergency preparedness has an agreement with the school board to use their buses as emergency transportation but this year he says some of the local bus drivers have volunteered their services. Oncale said they need school board approval before for the drivers but he’s confident the plan should be in place early this summer.

Losing electricity during and after a tropical storm or hurricane comes as no shock and knowing this, Oncale and his crew have prepared for 21 generators to be placed in locations throughout the parish to expedite the relief process.

&#8220For example we’ll have generators at all the water plants so we can make sure to get water to the people. We’ll have one at the water treatment plants because if people have water they’re going to generate sewer,” Oncale said. The courthouse is also one of the designated places a generator will be placed pre-landfall in the event a hurricane hits this year.

Although hurricane season only consumes some of the year, Oncale says it is never too early to start getting prepared and offered some helpful hints and easy ways to make the preparation less hectic.

&#8220The next time you go to the grocery store just grab a couple extra canned goods or some extra batteries,” Oncale said. &#8220If you go ahead and get that out of the way in March or April, you’re ready and those things won’t go bad.”

Putting together a storm survival kit and preparing necessary personal items in the case of evacuation are things Oncale would like everyone to do early.

&#8220Like the Boy Scouts say: be prepared,” Oncale said.

For more information on how to stay prepared for the storm call the St. John Office of Emergency Operations at (985)-652-2222 or access their website at http://stjohnla.us/eoc.asp. The storm survival guide can be obtained through the Office of emergency Operations or at www.trac4la.com