Gov. Jindal highlights hurricane preparedness in La.

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

As the peak of Hurricane Season approaches, Governor Bobby Jindal joined officials from St. Bernard Parish, the Louisiana Sherriff's Association (LSA), the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), the Louisiana State Police (LSP), the Louisiana National Guard (LANG) and the state Department of Corrections (DOC) at an event to highlight the state's hurricane preparedness efforts. Governor Jindal highlighted preparation work the state has engaged in, and he reminded folks across Louisiana about the importance of having a game plan in place should a storm hit.

Governor Jindal said, "Like every hurricane season, we are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. As part of our preparation efforts, sheriffs, first responders and state officials have been working year-round to ensure that we're ready for whatever Mother Nature sends our way. Sheriffs, first responders, emergency personnel and the state have a game plan, and it is imperative that Louisianians do too.

"We've made it through two months of Hurricane Season without a storm, but we're about to enter the peak of the season. If folks haven't already developed a game plan and loaded up on supplies, there's still time. Go out there, get your supplies and get a game plan in place to protect you and your loved ones."

To prepare for hurricane season, officials and personnel from GOHSEP, LSP and LANG have been working year round on plans and training—including multiple joint training exercises.

GOHSEP has held hurricane preparedness meetings in each region of the state with local government officials and key state agencies, making sure the unique needs of each region are addressed. In addition, GOHSEP recently launched a public awareness campaign to educate Louisiana citizens on storm impact vs. category storm levels and published the Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Guide for distribution across the state.

GOHSEP Director Kevin Davis said, "The new guides include all the vital information Louisiana citizens need. It's a single source for things like supply checklists, evacuation maps and contact numbers. The guides are being distributed to parishes as we start the peak time for hurricane season. We hope they will help everyone "Get A Game Plan" and stay safe."

LSP Troop offices across the state have evaluated emergency supply inventories to ensure that needed equipment and other supplies are readily available to support personnel in the field. Troop Commanders maintain contact and coordination with local law enforcement and other local officials on events, fairs, festivals and other events across the state to provide support and resources as needed, because maintaining situational awareness is crucial for any emergency response.

Proactive steps have also been taken by LSP to ensure school safety initiatives have been implemented across Louisiana. Each troop, along with school representatives for public and private schools and local law enforcement, is working to assess current security measures. Response plans are being reviewed and updated along with contact information for each entity.

In addition, State Police has updated and completed evacuation plans and routes, shelter security plans, state shelter and sex offender transportation plans and other agency plans while taking numerous steps to ensure that first responders and emergency officials can communicate during any storm.

State Police Superintendent Colonel Mike Edmonson said, "Prior to and during Hurricane Season, public safety agencies must be especially proactive. And being proactive necessarily requires that all agencies work together. I simply cannot overstate the importance of establishing and nurturing partnerships among agencies."

LANG has approximately 7,000 personnel available to respond to any emergency after months of training. In addition to personnel, the Guard has a fleet of emergency response equipment, including high-water vehicles, engineering vehicles and equipment, flat-bottom boats for search & rescue and helicopters for search & rescue, medical evacuation and emergency resupply.

The National Guard also has Satellite, HF and FM communications systems that are fully integrated and interoperable with civilian emergency responders, Command & Control operations centers in southern and central Louisiana and mobile Command & Control operations centers and logistics and commodity staging areas in South, Central and North Louisiana.

LANG Adjutant General and Major General Glenn H. Curtis said, "The Louisiana National Guard is ready to respond to any storm and any emergency. Our guardsmen have trained and coordinated with other emergency responders throughout our state to ensure that we are prepared for any emergency. I want our citizens to know that they can have the confidence that when a hurricane hits, we are prepared to respond to protect them and their property."

All of the preparation and hard work culminates at the state's Fusion Center (LA-SAFE). LA-SAFE promotes a collaborative environment for governmental and corporate partners to work together in providing timely information for use in improving public safety.

The Fusion Center actively works to collect and analyze information from various sources and then disseminates that information to other law enforcement partners on the state, local and federal level.

LA-SAFE allows partners from various state, local and federal agencies to work together under one roof, located on the LSP HQ compound.

This coordination provides a mechanism crucial in the decision-making processes and allows law enforcement to maximize its resources to protect the citizens of Louisiana.

At no time in Louisiana's history have law enforcement agencies and other public safety agencies enjoyed a stronger bond. By planning together, training together and sharing resources and manpower—organizations are able to successfully execute shared goals for public safety.

Louisiana Sheriffs' Association Executive Director Michael Ranatza said, "The Louisiana Sheriffs' Association is pleased to work in conjunction with Louisiana State Police, Department of Corrections, Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police, Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and the Louisiana National Guard in an effort to prepare our law enforcement response during Hurricane Season. It is our goal in this proactive endeavor to better prepare all of our components for whatever this Hurricane Season might have in store."