Get ready for storms now, say officials

June 06, 2007 at 2:23 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Get ready for storms now, say officials
Photo by Shonna Riggs
St. Charles Parish President Albert Laque and Emergency Operations Center director Tab Troxler demonstrated the parish’s ability to evacuate residents with their pets at a mock hurricane drill Thursday, May 31.

The June 1, hurricane season is under way and both parish leaders urge residents to be vigilante and take precautions for themselves and their families in the event of a mandatory parish-wide evacuation - and turn to the parish for help only as a last resort.

“St. Charles Parish can’t survive a Category 3 hurricane,” Troxler told the Herald-Guide.

“For this reason we need to make sure residents have a way out of the parish along with their pets, but we are to be considered a last step, and not a first option for families,” he said.

“We will provide transportation to people who can’t leave the parish because they have circumstances making it difficult for them to evacuate.”

“We do know that out of all the parishes affected by Hurricane Katrina in the area, St. Charles Parish had the highest evacuation rate in the state and that’s a good indication that residents are equally concerned about their safety.”

Some circumstances might include, no vehicle, no family or elderly and can’t leave.

“During Hurricane Katrina we evacuated 840 residents out of the parish,” Troxler said.

“We will do the same thing again if we have too,” he continued.

“We’ve contracted with Avoyelles and East Baton Rouge Parish to house people in shelters of last resort.”

Laque said that once residents arrive at the shelters, if necessary personnel from St. Charles Parish will be used to assist in running the temporary home away from home to make the process smoother.

“If we need to use some of our parish workers and essential staff that stays behind during mandatory storms to accompany residents to the shelters, and serve as part of the support team when they arrive with our residents, then that’s what we’ll do” Laque said.

“We don’t have any levee protection on the west bank side of the parish which puts us at risk,” he continued.

“And we can’t depend on the federal government to help us,” he said.

“We have to use our own resources and then rely on governmental agencies as a last resort,”

Laque said the rules are always changing.

“The federal guidelines are varying and different when it comes to what the government will do and won’t do to help the parish and that’s why we can’t depend on them. We have to make the best plan for ourselves,” he continued.

With new legislation post Katrina, Troxler said the state mandates that all people and their pets must be evacuated.

“We know some people won’t evacuate if they can’t take their pets,” he said.

“So we want to make sure that residents don’t have this reason to stay behind in a dangerous storm.”

Troxler notes that people need to bring a three day supply of food, water and clothes for themselves and pet supplies if the family is evacuating with a dog or cat and is using the parish’s free transportation.

“We have 45 bus drivers who will to stay behind to transport people who don’t have a way out of the parish in the event of a hurricane,” he said.

“All of our emergency equipment and alert systems are running smoothly and we are ready to do what we can to get people out safely.”

Steve Sirmon Jr., communications operator for the provides this information for residents:

“In case of emergency, we’ll alert citizens by utilizing a telephone alert system similar to the St. Charles parish School Boards’s , as well as the Waterford 3 siren system. If needed, emergency personnel will be used for route alerting dispense information,” Sirmon said.

“Traditional means of gathering information during an emergency are encouraged as well,” he continued.

“WWL, 870AM, local television stations are reputable sources on the internet and are helpful and informative during hurricane evacuations.”

View other articles written Shonna Riggs

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