Emergency Operations Center director gives best evacuation routes, times for both the East Bank and West Bank
Although it’s too early to tell where Hurricane Gustav will make landfall, Tab Troxler, director of the parish’s Emergency Operations Center, says he’s a little nervous about this one. In fact, he has already activated his family’s emergency plan in case they have to evacuate.
Troxler warns residents to take similar precautions.
“Hurricane Gustav’s early track places it somewhere between the central Gulf of Mexico heading towards New Orleans by the end of the week (Aug.31) or the early part of next week (Sept.1),” Troxler said. “I’ve already activated my family’s hurricane evacuation plans.”
Troxler says that with each passing hour Gustav is turning closer and closer towards the center of the Gulf of Mexico.
“Prep your house,” Troxler advised. “Make sure garage doors are closed and locked so your belongings are protected this week.”
Troxler says that parish officials have already started meeting about the storm.
“I’ve already met with Parish President V.J. St. Pierre and his executive staff,” he said.
Troxler says his No. 1 concern right now is storm surge.
“My family and I have pets and we already had an evacuation plan that we keep in place and ready at all times,” he said. “I’m advising residents that, if you have an evacuation plan, now is time to do the same thing.”
If a mandatory evacuation is ordered, Troxler has specific route recommendations for residents of St. Charles Parish. Troxler also suggested the best times to leave based on traffic reports kept on the Hurricane Katrina evacuation.
“We do not recommend ever taking I-10, unless it is before the evacuation is called,” Troxler said. “We recommend that residents on the East Bank take Airline Highway or River Road through the Bonnet Carre Spillway.”
Troxler recommends that West Bank residents east of I-310 take LA3127. Residents from Taft to I-310 bridge are advised to take River Road and everyone living west of I-310 is advised to take Highway 90. Troxler said the reason they are telling residents west of I-310 to go west is to prevent a potential bottleneck of traffic trying to turn left at the Highway 90/I-310 traffic light.
Troxler warns, “it may be necessary to call a mandatory evacuation for West Bank residents south of Highway 90, even if a category 1 or 2 hurricane approaches.”
West Bank residents are more vulnerable than the East Bank or New Orleans because of the lack of levee protection in the area.
When evacuating, timing is everything to prevent traffic headaches, Troxler says. The sooner the person leaves after an evacuation is called, the better.
“There’s a two-hour window right after an evacuation is called where there’s no traffic,” Troxler said. “When a mandatory evacuation was called for Katrina, nobody left for two hours and then traffic steadily rose until it peaked Saturday afternoon. Traffic slowed around 10 p.m. and then picked up again Sunday morning and rose throughout the day.”
Tip – Make reservations before the evacuation is called and think outside the box. Try towns that are off the beaten track and small-town bed and breakfasts, which can be reached via back roads and don’t fill up nearly as fast. It took one resident 45 minutes via LA 3127 to get to a quaint Donaldsonville bed and breakfast he stayed at during Katrina.
Recommended evacuation routes.
Troxler and the Emergency Operations Center recommend the following evacuation routes for St. Charles Parish. Officials pointed out that after contra flow is enacted, it’s not possible to get to I-10 from I-310. They recommend evacuating before contra flow is enacted if possible because there is much less traffic and much less confusion.
I-310 South to LA 3127 West, then LA 1 North to Highway 190 West. From Highway 190 West, residents can take I-49 North (Alexandria/Shreveport)
Highway 90 West to Lafayette, then I-10 West (Lake Charles /Houston, TX) or I-49 North (Alexandria/Shreveport)
The River Roads are also a viable evacuation route. LA 48 (Eastbank River Road) will connect you to LaPlace, where you can take I-55 North (with contra flow if it is activated). LA 18 (Westbank River Road) will give access to Gramercy and eventually Donaldsonville. Connect to LA 1 to Baton Rouge, then I-10 West to Lake Charles or Houston.
Airline Hwy, U.S. 61, West will give access to I-55 north or through Baton Rouge and eventually up to Natchez, Miss.
Louisiana State Police Hurricane and Evacuation information can be found at http://www.lsp.org/hurricane.html
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