Monday, June 06, 2016
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH – On Wednesday, June 1st, Parish President Natalie Robottom joined Governor John Bel Edwards, Colonel Richard Hansen of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Captain Wayne Arguin of the Coast Guard, Meteorologist Ken Graham of the National Weather Service and a number of other parish leaders and government officials to discuss hurricane preparedness at the Port of New Orleans.
A Parish Hurricane Preparedness Meeting which is open to the public will be held on Wednesday, June 22 at 6 p.m. at REGALA Gym, 200 REGALA Park Rd. in Reserve. GOHSEP Director James Waskom and National Weather Service Meterologist Ken Graham will serve as guest speakers for the meeting.
Residents are strongly encouraged to finalize preparations for their families and businesses. This includes finalizing family/business plans, checking disaster supply kits, replacing old batteries, and determining the best evacuation destination and route. Residents should review the parish's hurricane brochure or visit the website at sjbparish.com or www.getagameplan.org for more hurricane preparedness information. Items such as battery-powered flashlights, extra batteries, medications, water, non-perishable foods, hand-operated can openers, utility knives, first aid supplies, radios and waterproof bags for important documents should be readily accessible.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 4 to 8 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). While a near-normal season is likely (45 percent), there is a 30 percent chance of an above-normal season and a 25 percent chance of a below-normal season.
“Tropical Storm Alex, the first named storm of the year, and tropical storm Bonnie both formed outside of hurricane season – not to mention the ongoing severe weather events our region has faced in the past few months. This should alert residents that they need to be prepared every day. It only takes one storm or severe weather event to devastate a community,” advised President Robottom.
Prepositioned contracts and agreements for transportation, sheltering, pets, generators, disaster recovery, and a last resort shelter are in place while staff continue to review emergency plans and procedures. The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and Communications staff have attended numerous training exercises with GOHSEP, the National Weather Service, the National Hurricane Center and neighboring parishes in preparation for this hurricane season.
Additionally, President Robottom and the Parish Council continue to move forward with designing and constructing projects to improve drainage and the utility system. Back-up systems for water and power are in place with additional generators, elevated electrical components, and preventive maintenance on the water system have been completed. To address damages caused by Hurricane Isaac and to prevent it from happening again, twenty-four submersible pumps have been installed at twelve lift stations and a telemetry system is being installed on 50 Parish lift stations. Lake gauges are currently in place and rain tracking devices are located at fire stations, the EOC and on Lake Pontchartrain and a high water vehicle has been acquired to access critical infrastructure.
In the wake of the February tornado, Parish President Robottom requested and received approval of a resolution urging the state of Louisiana to establish a Disaster Assistance Funding Program to assist residents, municipalities, political subdivisions and parish governments in times of disaster when federal disaster assistance is not available. This resolution was also adopted by both the Coastal Caucus Committee and Police Jury Association. “It is imperative that the state establish a policy for such occurrences as they appear to be increasing in intensity and frequency,” said Robottom. “We must find a way to fund these disasters without the burden lying solely on local government.”
Residents are also encouraged to sign up to receive personalized messages to their phones and email addresses by visiting sjbparish.com and clicking “Stay Connected”. Weather warnings are automatically sent based on notifications from the National Weather Service. During an emergency, notifications and updates will also be shared on the parish website, Facebook, twitter and SJTV. Residents with medical disabilities or special needs should call the Health and Human Services Department at 985-652-9569 to register in advance for evacuation plans.
Public Safety and Communications staff are available to conduct Hurricane Preparedness presentations for the public, at town hall meetings and for neighborhood associations by request. Please call 652-2222 to schedule a presentation.