tate agencies stand ready to respond to threats of tropical weather

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

State agencies stand ready to respond if tropical weather threatens Louisiana this year, public safety officials conducting a “midseason” review of the state’s hurricane preparedness efforts said on Wednesday.

Officials from the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Louisiana State Police, Louisiana National Guard, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Louisiana Sheriffs Association met Wednesday to review the state’s preparedness plans as the region enters what is considered by many to be the height of the Atlantic Hurricane season.

GOHSEP Director Kevin Davis said, “In Louisiana, we know all too well how dangerous and destructive late summer hurricanes can be, which is why we gathered key officials today to discuss the state’s plans and preparations for tropical weather. GOHSEP and its partners stand ready to respond if a storm threatens Louisiana and we encourage our citizens to review and update their emergency game plans now, before severe weather affects our communities and threatens their homes.”

State Police Superintendent Colonel Mike Edmonson said “We must never become complacent. Our experience tells us that we must be prepared administratively, logistically and operationally to respond to any type of incident at any time. As state agency partners, we are committed and ready. Are you?”

Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, adjutant general of the LANG said, "I want to ensure that our citizens have confidence when a disaster hits -- the Louisiana National Guard is prepared to respond during any emergency. Louisiana Guardsmen are trained, ready and capable of providing support to our communities and civil responders anywhere in the state, at the direction of the Governor."

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham said, "LDWF Enforcement Division agents are prepared to respond as needed in coastal parishes, as well as any inland parishes, that may be impacted by tropical storm surge or flooding produced by heavy rainfall. Search and rescue training is part of each agent's annual training regimen."

Louisiana Sherriff’s Association Executive Director Michael Ranatza said, “Lessons learned from our immediate past have better enabled us to direct a response more in line of what the public expects of us – that we work together in the worst of times to accomplish the best for those who need us.”

August and September have traditionally been active times for hurricanes to affect Louisiana. Since 2005, the state has responded to four major, destructive hurricanes at this point in the season: Katrina (August 29, 2005), Rita (September 24, 2005), Gustav (September 1, 2008) and Ike (September 13, 2008).

Earlier in the year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted a “near normal” Atlantic Hurricane Season, with between nine and 15 named storms, of which four to eight could strengthen to a hurricane, with the possibility of one to three of these storms becoming a major hurricane, ranking Category 3 or above.

Since May, there have been four named storms – Alberto, Beryl, Chris and Debby – that have threatened the Atlantic coast. The Atlantic Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.

PREPAREDNESS TIPS:

The state of Louisiana encourages all citizens to assess risks to their family’s safety to plan accordingly, including creating an emergency kit of necessary supplies and documents that your family will need, readying your home for severe weather, locating a place to stay if there is an evacuation of your community and identifying information sources to help your family make decisions about its safety.

An emergency kit should include three-to-five days’ worth of food, water and medications and clothing for your entire family, an evacuation map, a first aid kit, battery powered flashlights, lantern and radios and extra batteries. Kits should also include chargers and extra batteries for cell phones.

Make sure to pack vital records and important documents like birth certificates, driver’s licenses or identification cards, social security cards, proof of residence and copies of insurance policies in a portable waterproof container.

To become digitally prepared, save important phone numbers in your cell phone, including your parish Emergency Operations Center, the Louisiana State Police Road Closure Hotline and your electric company. You can find a list of important numbers on www.getagameplan.org. You should also save important Website addresses, like http://emergency.louisiana.gov, in the Internet browser on your smartphone.

For more tips and a full list of supplies to include in an emergency kit, visit www.getagameplan.org. When disasters strike, state agencies post emergency information online at http://emergency.louisiana.gov.

Citizens can get updates directly from GOHSEP if they “Like” the agency’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/gohsep and by following @GOHSEP on Twitter. Citizens with iPhones and iPads can download the GOHSEP “Get a Game Plan” and “Get a Business Plan” apps in the Apple store, by visiting the links on http://getagameplan.org or searching for “GOHSEP” in the Apple app store on their devices.

The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) is charged with leading and supporting Louisiana and its Citizens in the preparation for, response to and recovery from all emergencies and disasters. For more information, visit http://gohsep.la.gov or follow the agency on Twitter as @GOHSEP and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gohsep.

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