Ascension Parish OHSEP launches new informational Web site

Staff reports

As part of its continuing effort to increase the depth of training both in staff and community volunteer organizations, the Ascension Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness launched its new Web site, located on the Ascension Parish Government’s site at www.ascensionparish.net, according to a release from parish government.

The OHSEP site can be accessed by selecting “AP OHSEP” under the site’s “Department” menu.

OHSEP has conducted more than fifteen training classes and has launched an aggressive campaign that will insure the residents of Ascension Parish are informed of emergency events and prepared, parish, public relations officer Ami Johnson said in a release.

The most recent achievement in this initiative is the launching of the new site.

To provide an even easier browsing experience, OHSEP has created a direct link to its site from the Ascension Parish home page, Johnson said.

One of the new web based features available is the Emergency Alert Notification through First Call. OHSEP Director Rick Webre and his team have tested the reverse 911 system during recent events, Johnson said, and its performance was “exceptional.”

The system contains more than 40,000 home telephone numbers and is crucial in providing emergency information directly to the public when there is a threat to life or property. However, e-mail addresses, cell phones, PDAs, and pagers, must be registered to receive data during emergencies. Signup is simple and takes only moments.

Additionally, First Call has an inbound feature which allows the public to call and receive the same emergency data by telephone that is located on the OHSEP Web site, Johnson said. The number to call is 866-380-2303.

A second feature provided is the Hazardous Weather Alert Notification through My State USA. Registration is easy and allows residents to choose what type of severe weather alert they’d like to receive.

Marion Johnson-Miles, AP OHSEP’s Planning Section Chief, suggested all businesses and residents of Ascension visit the Web site and bookmark it for future reference.

“Information before an emergency situation arises can be as important as real time awareness of the event,” Johnson-Miles said.

OHSEP continuously updates the site with current press releases, real-time satellite images, river stages and flooding information, road closures, public service announcements and more, Johnson said.

“The addition of both notification systems, as part of the OHSEP Preparedness initiative, will provide the necessary and vital information we need to quickly communicate with our community in the event of an emergency,” Parish President Tommy Martinez said. “As we find ourselves in the midst of the 2008 hurricane season, many people continue to think about the storms of 2005 and their impact on Louisiana. Ascension Parish’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness has worked tirelessly to insure Ascension Parish and its residents are kept informed and that key staff and support agencies are trained and prepared to provide the necessary guidance in any event.”

Martinez encouraged residents to take advantage of the alert systems.

“Take time to make these a part of their personal emergency planning and preparedness,” Martinez said.