St. Charles Herald-Guide

Volunteers sought for 2-hour disaster drill

From staff and wire reports - March 26, 2012

One of the biggest challenges in disaster recovery is ensuring residents have the supplies they need to get back on their feet. To that end, beginning at 8:30 a.m. April 13, parish responders and volunteers will test Point of Distribution procedures through a site setup and drill at the West Bank Bridge Park in Luling.

The exercise will be open to the public, who are asked to drive through the site from its starting point at the bridge park’s westernmost parking lot entrance. Participants will receive a Red Cross ‘Emergency Go Kit’ containing information on emergency preparedness and other goodies from parish government. The drill will run approximately two hours.

Points of Distribution are centralized locations where members of the public can pick up life-sustaining commodities following a disaster or emergency. Workers needed to run such a site include traffic controllers, community relations personnel, equipment operators, loaders and security.

"This exercise is valuable to St. Charles Parish Emergency Operations Center as an organization because it will allow us to correct any issues that may decrease the efficiency of such an operation," Emergency Preparedness Director Scott Whelchel said. The EOC is organizing the exercise, which will pull in personnel from various agencies and departments, including St. Charles Parish Public Works, Parks and Recreation, St. Charles Parish Schools and more.

The April 13 drill will test a ‘Type III’ Distribution Point, the smallest of the POD models. The parish previous operated two Type III PODs during Hurricane Katrina at the West Bank Bridge Park in Luling and Jerusalem Temple parking lot in Destrehan. The parish also manned a POD at the West Bank Bridge Park after Hurricane Gustav in 2008.

The POD can be staged in an area 150 feet by 300 feet and requires a staff of 19 per day and four per night.