Friday, May 30, 2019
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH – June 1st marks the start of hurricane season and residents are strongly encouraged to finalize preparations for their families and businesses. This includes finalizing family/business plans, checking supply kits, replacing old batteries, and determining the best evacuation route to safety.
Residents should look for hurricane brochures in the mail and visit the parish website at sjbparish.com or www.getagameplan.org for more hurricane preparedness information. Items such as battery-powered flashlights, extra batteries, medications, water, non-perishable foods, hand-operated can openers, first aid supplies, radios and waterproof bags for important documents should be readily accessible. Please be advised that the pickup location in a mandatory evacuation is East. St. John Prepatory Academy in LaPlace and the Courthouse in Edgard.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued a 70 percent likelihood of 9 to 15 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 4 to 8 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). While a near average season is likely, there is a 30 percent chance of a below-normal season, and a 30 percent chance of an above-normal season. Additional information and new forecasting terms are available for review at noaanews.noaa.gov.
Although hurricane season officially begins Saturday, in the past months south Louisiana has experienced a number of severe weather events producing hail, damaging winds, and street flooding. Emergency officials and department heads have ongoing interactions with state agency representatives during weather events and other emergencies to ensure they are receiving the latest forecasts and information to provide to the public. “Please do not focus on storm categories alone because they only account for wind strength. Storm surge and flooding present a greater threat to life and property than wind damage,” said President Robottom. “It only takes one event to devastate a community so now is the time to prepare.”
Prepositioned contracts and agreements for transportation, sheltering, pets and generators are in place while emergency leads, and backups continue to meet to review emergency plans and procedures. Staff from the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and the Communications Department have attended numerous training exercises held by GOHSEP, the National Weather Service, the National Hurricane Center and neighboring parishes.
The West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane Risk Reduction Project is funded for construction after more than 40 years and the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is currently working with the Coastal Protection Restoration Authority (CPRA) and the Pontchartrain Levee District (PLD) to complete the project. Contracts have been awarded to conduct pre-construction activities such as title research for right of entry, vegetative and tree clearing along the preliminary alignment and surveying and soil boring to determine the final alignment. According to the Corps, the first construction contract is anticipated to be awarded by mid-2020. The levee project is scheduled for completion by 2024.
With regard to parish infrastructure, the Administration continues to move forward with projects to improve drainage and utilities systems to protect against storms. A project to install additional permanent generators at three major lift stations (Ned Duhe, Belle Terre and Captain G Bourgeois) is underway. This project will help to prevent should those areas lose power. Phase 2 of the Reserve Drainage Project is out for bid which will improve drainage along the following streets: Terrance, West 8th, Marmillion Loop, Toni Dr., W 2nd St., W 4th St., Cornland and Hart Dr.
In addition to ongoing maintenance and spraying of internal canals and ditches, permits were obtained to dredge 6 major canals, Woodland, Godchaux, Moll, Haydel, Vicknair and Reserve Relief, as well as to snag/clear other canals throughout the parish. Residents can help by assisting with keeping catch basins and ditches free of debris before and during rain events.
Residents continue to be encouraged to sign up to receive personalized messages to their phones and emails by visiting sjbparish.com and clicking “Stay Connected”. Weather warnings are automatically sent based on notifications from the National Weather Service. During emergencies, notifications and updates will also be shared on the parish website, Facebook, twitter and SJTV. Residents with medical disabilities or special needs should call the Health and Human Services Department at 985-536-4955 to register in advance for evacuation plans.
Public Safety and Communications staff are available to conduct Hurricane Preparedness presentations for the public, town hall and neighborhood meetings by request. Please call 652-2222 to schedule a presentation.