Friday, May 30. 2014
St. John the Baptist Parish – Parish President Robottom will join officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in proclaiming the week of May 25 – 31 as Hurricane Preparedness Week to highlight the importance of planning ahead. As June 1 approaches, St. John residents are urged to finalize emergency plans and emergency supply kits, as well as familarize themselves with evacuation routes for the 2014 storm season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 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. Please visit the parish website at sjbparish.com or go to www.getagameplan.org for more hurricane preparedness information.
Parish President Natalie Robottom, her staff and employees remain committed to addressing 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 in preparation for storm season. An agreement was recently authorized 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 Office of Emergency Preparedness continues to work closely with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (GOHSEP), as well as other local and state agencies to ensure the parish is ready for storm season. Additionally, critical personnel, including the Public Safety and Communications staff, have participated in numerous training exercises held by GOHSEP, the National Weather Service, the National Hurricane Center and the American Red Cross.
The 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 within minutes as well as Geo-mapped to target groups. With this service, automated warnings from the National Weather Service are also sent to residentsimmediately, when issued. Residents can sign up to personalize receipt of these messages to their phones by visiting sjbparish.com and clicking “Stay Connected”.
Residents can sign up for E-News updates at www.sjbparish.com by clicking E-News. During an emergency, notifications and updates will also be posted on the parish website, Facebook and twitter. 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 .
Public Safety and Communications staff are available to do Hurricane Preparedness presentations for the public, town hall and neighborhood meetings by request. Please call 652-2222 to schedule. On Friday, May 30, President Robottom will join Mayor Mitch Landrieu and other Parish Presidents from the region and state agency representatives for a joint press conference to discuss hurricane preparations and plans for the upcoming season. More information from this conference will be posted on the Parish website. Tune into local news stations to receive updated information on hurricane season.