St. John Parish preps for hurricane season
Published 11:45 pm Friday, May 30, 2014
By Monique Roth
LAPLACE — St. John the Baptist Parish residents and business owners are urged to finalize emergency plans and supply kits, as well as familiarize themselves with evacuation routes, for the 2014 hurricane season starting tomorrow.
St. John Parish Presi dent Natalie Robottom joined officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in proclaiming the week of May 25 – 31 as Hurricane Preparedness Week to highlight the importance of planning ahead. Yesterday she joined Mayor Mitch Landrieu and other regional parish presidents and state agency representatives for a joint press conference to discuss hurricane preparations and plans for the upcoming season.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Ad ministration has issued a near-normal or below-normal outlook for hurricanes in the Atlantic basin. The current forecast includes 8 to 13 named storms. The Pacific basin has already seen some activity with the first named storm, Hurricane Amanda.
Although the outlook does not predict the location of storms, residents and business owners should begin preparations in advance of an event. Items such as battery-powered flashlights, extra batteries, medications, non-perishable foods, hand-operated can openers, utility knives, first aid supplies, radios and waterproof bags for important documents should be readily accessible.
Robottom and her staff continue to address hurricane preparedness and infrastructure improvements as hurricane season approaches.
Reviewing and updating emergency operation plans, meeting with various agencies and parish department heads, inspecting and upgrading pumps and lifts stations and implementing measures to protect water infrastructure during emergencies are just a few of the many tasks undertaken by the parish in preparation for storm season.
An agreement was recently authorized by the parish with the South Louisiana Region of the American Red Cross for sheltering services and contracts for emergency bus drivers were renewed for use during declared emergencies requiring evacuation. Alternate water sources for LaPlace were secured through an emergency agreement with St. Charles Parish, improvements to the Reserve water system were completed and upgrades and protective measures were made for the Ruddock System.
The St. John Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness continues to work closely with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, as well as other local and state agencies, to ensure the parish is ready for storm season. Additionally, critical parish personnel have participated in numerous training exercises held by GOHSEP, the National Weather Service, the National Hurricane Center and the American Red Cross.
The parish communications department recently upgraded the emergency alert system by launching Blackboard Connect, the parish’s new notification system. Through Blackboard Connect, periodic and personalized voice, text or email messages can be sent to residents and businesses, as well as geo-mapped to target groups. With this service, automated warnings from the National Weather Service are also sent to residents immediately as they are issued.
Residents can sign up to personalize receipt of these messages to their phones by visiting sjbparish.com and clicking “Stay Connected”.
Residents with medical disabilities or special needs should call the Office of Emergency Preparedness at 985-652-2222 to register in advance for evacuation plans.
Parish public safety and communications staff are available to do hurricane preparedness presentations for the public, town hall and neighborhood meetings by request. Call 652-2222 for more information and to schedule.
Visit sjbparish.com or getagameplan.org for more hurricane preparedness information.