St. James notification system signup ongoing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 11, 2010



CONVENT – With hurricane season entering its peak month of activity, St. James Parish officials are reminding residents to take time out and get registered with the parish’s emergency notification system.

Parish President Dale Hymel said in advance of hurricane season, the parish created a text-based alert system to notify residents about the status of parish facilities and damage in the aftermath of a major weather event.

“It lets the residents know the status of recovery and relief efforts and also informs them on what to do next, or when they can come home,” Hymel said. “Residents can either go online to the parish website or call the emergency preparedness department directly.”

The link to the emergency notification registry is located in the middle of the front page of the parish’s website at Residents without Internet access can call the St. James Office of Emergency Preparedness at 225-562-2364.

Hymel said prior to the start of hurricane season, the parish reprinted and updated the emergency preparedness guide in an effort to better advise residents on how to handle emergency weather or medical situations. He said the parish has taken steps to improve communication between residents and parish leadership, including back-up communication systems that rely on wireless and satellite technology.

“This will benefit our residents and our leadership during a crisis situation,” Hymel said. “After Gustav came through, we lost vital communication sources when AT&T’s network went down in the area. We don’t want a repeat of that.”

Hymel said when an evacuation is called in St. James residents will be housed at the Lutcher High School and St. James High School gyms, which have a capacity of about 800 residents. Both facilities are currently receiving “hazard-proof” upgrades as part of the parish’s hazard mitigation plan.

In the event of a storm of category 3 or higher strength, Hymel said residents would be sent to a point-to-point shelter at West Side Middle School in Amite. The sites will be stocked with food and water and powered by emergency electric generators.

Hymel also said the parish recently signed an agreement with Piccadilly Cafeteria to provide meals for residents in the event the American Red Cross is unable to so.

“In the event of an emergency, public safety is always number one,” Hymel said. “Any decision we make has to ensure the safety and protect our citizens in the parish. Once we are sure of that, we go into a recovery stage and make sure our residents can return back to some sort of normalcy as quick as possible.”