St. Charles Herald-Guide

Just prepare to evacuate

By Allen Lottinger - May 24, 2006

If we've learned anything in the past year, it should be how to react to hurricane season.

Be prepared!

Contrary to what other people have said about Louisiana, we always thought our people did the most to prepare themselves for such a storm as Katrina. We've prepared ourselves by making sure generators and flash lights work, having enough food that did not need refrigeration on hand, filling our gas tanks for possible evacuation, etc., etc.

And our public officials, too, have in the past helped prepare us. We believe our state pioneered in turning interstate highways into one-way evacuation routes in time of need. We have had evacuation centers available as soon as hurricanes entered the Gulf of Mexico. Orders to evacuate have been issued with precision when hurricanes turned toward our coast.

In other words, we learned through years of experience in dodging storms what to be prepared to do during hurricane season. What we didn't learn to do is how to stop faulty levees along drainage canals and shipping channels from breaking.

Now we have alerted the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers to do something about that latter problem in New Orleans. Here in St. Charles, no such effort is being made. An east bank levee is pretty much in place. On the west bank, however, there is no continuous levee that could even begin to stop a surge from the Gulf if it came this far. Which means, be more prepared than ever to evacuate when the big one approaches.

The 2006 hurricane season begins next Thursday. Take this week to check your flashlights and generators, gas tanks and food supply.

Then relax and be prepared to evacuate. That latter protection has become more important than ever.