Parish’s emergency network is ready
Although Subtropical Storm Alberto beat the start of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season by days, the National Weather Service doesn’t expect it to be as active this year.
Even so, Frank Rivette, NWS’ warning coordinator meteorologist, advised residents should stay ready for a major hurricane.
Rivette was among the key speakers at the parish’s 2018 Hurricane Summit held last Thursday. They also included St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne and Schools Superintendent Felecia Gomez-Walker.
NWS forecasts four major hurricanes; five to nine hurricanes, and 10 to 16 named storms.
“Five-day plans are great, but you won’t always have five days of lead time on the Gulf Coast,” Rivette said. Camille (1969) wasn’t classified as a tropical storm until about 80 hours before landfill as a category 5 storm. It intensified from 75 mph winds to 120 mph winds in 24 hours. Cindy (2005) became a major hurricane within 48 hours.
Of storm related deaths, he said water is the prime killer in tropical events. NWS figures show storm surge, 49 percent; rain, 27 percent; wind, 8 percent; surf and offshore, each 6 percent, tornado, 3 percent, and other, 1 percent.
For St. Charles Parish, the hardest hitting storms make landfall to the west of the parish as opposed to head on or from the east, Rivette said.
NWS’ job is to communicate risk to the public, particularly when residents tend to explain away the threat of storms, he said.
James Waskom, director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, agreed with the need for a disaster plan and recommended going to getagameplan.org for recommendations on how to make one. It has a downloadable app that allows naming five people that can be notified simultaneously with pressing a button that one is safe.