Posts tagged ‘emergency preparedness’

Official: Cameron beaches still oil-free and open to public

*published June 25, 2010

CREOLE — All Cameron Parish beaches are clean and open to the public, Clifton Hebert, parish emergency preparedness director, said Thursday.

At about 6:30 p.m. Thursday, the American Press received a call from a Cameron Parish resident who said she saw dead, oil-covered animals on Rutherford Beach.

The American Press observed two dead dolphins, each about a half-mile apart. Parts of the animals were black, but neither they nor the sand had oil on it, and there was no smell of oil.

Hebert said he has heard no reports of oil from the Deepwater Horizon leak coming this far west. He said the dark color occurs on the animals during decomposition.

“More than likely, there would be oil visible in the sand and water as well,” Hebert said.
He said the dolphins were likely caught in menhaden, or pogy, fishing nets. “We had a bunch of pogies wash on shore yesterday, from a broken net,” Hebert said.

Hebert took pictures and GPS coordinates of both animals to give to state fisheries officials, who will go out today to run tests.

“We’ve definitely been keeping a close watch,” Hebert said. “About every other day agents are driving all of the beaches, checking for oil.”

On March 13, residents reported seeing tar balls at Holly Beach and Johnson Bayou, but officials didn’t think they they were connected with the spill.

From the shore of Rutherford Beach about half a dozen offshore platforms are visible.

The Louisiana National Guard is in Cameron Parish to place a Hesco barrier wall along about eight miles of shoreline. The barriers, filled with sand, are meant to protect the marshes.

Residents with any information are urged to call the parish office of emergency preparedness at 775-7048.


June 25, 2010 at 7:16 pm

First responders train on digital radios for use during emergencies

*published June 5, 2009

Master Sgt. David Landry of the Louisiana Air National Guard demonstrates technology that can be used to communicate with anyone in the country from inside this van. The demonstration was part of the Region 5 Interoperability Drill held Thursday at the Lake Charles Civic Center. Each office in the area showed off emergency equipment during the training exercise.  BY BRAD PUCKETT

Master Sgt. David Landry of the Louisiana Air National Guard demonstrates technology that can be used to communicate with anyone in the country from inside this van. The demonstration was part of the Region 5 Interoperability Drill held Thursday at the Lake Charles Civic Center. Each office in the area showed off emergency equipment during the training exercise. BY BRAD PUCKETT

First responders from the five-parish area spent this week training on 700 mHz digital radios meant to connect their various agencies during emergencies.

“In the past, we did not have the funding or political support to make a system like this happen,” said Dick Gremillion, director of the Calcasieu Office of Emergency Preparedness.

Most of the equipment was reportedly bought with grants that officials received after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — the response to which, like that of Hurricane Katrina years later, was hampered by incompatible communications equipment and protocols.

“Katrina was a real wakeup call for us, because we lost all communication with each other.” Gremillion said. “And last year (hurricane season) we had very few problems.”

The system is called the Louisiana Wireless Information Network, or LWIN, said Mark Cooper, director of the state emergency preparedness office.

Cooper said there are about 42,000 users in the state, including law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical workers.

“Today we have 95 percent portable (radio) coverage in south Louisiana and 89 percent coverage of the state,” Cooper said. “Now Louisiana is being looked at as a national leader in radio interoperability.”

Cooper credited the partnerships between local, state and federal agencies as a big part of the successful network.

“Radio communication is one thing we are not concerned about going into this hurricane season,” Cooper said.

State police Superintendent Mike Edmonson said he is proud that people can admit their mistakes and work together to make sure they never happen again.

“For three days after Katrina, we couldn’t talk to our officers on the ground, and that’s a travesty,” Edmonson said. “We want to make sure that never happens again.”

He said that about 2.2 million people live along the Interstate 10 corridor in Louisiana.

“We moved 1.9 million people out of harm’s way when we issued an evacuation,” Edmonson said. “Unfortunately, we had not seen that in the past.

“I think now (because of previous natural disasters) there is a greater expectation from the public. Residents tell me, ‘We know what you can do, and we want to know our homes are safe and that we will be taken care of if we are told to leave.’ ”

All agencies brought their mobile emergency communications centers to show the systems they have in place for when all other power is out in their area.

Almost all centers are equipped with satellite communications for independent radio, Internet and phone capabilities.

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June 5, 2009 at 9:25 pm Leave a comment

Meteorologist explains changes in measurements related to storms

*May 28, 2009

Weather forecasters explained new procedures they will have in place for the coming hurricane season as they met with local emergency officials on Wednesday.

Meteorologist Roger Erickson with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles talked about changes to forms of measurement and how they will present information to the public.

The Saffir-Simpson scale — which determines a hurricane’s category — will only measure wind speeds and projected wind damage, Erickson said.

When the scale was developed in the 1970s, it only measured wind speed, but central pressure and storm surge measurements were later added.

“This began to create a problem,” Erickson said. He cited Hurricane Andrew in 1992, whose winds were equivalent to a category three storm, but the storm surge measurements were at category five.

He also stressed the importance of residents understanding the language forecasters use, using the difference between sustained winds and wind gusts as an example.

New tools the weather service plans to use include specific weather impact statements and graphics that show inland flooding and storm-urge measurements.

“People don’t always understand what 60 mph winds can do, so we are going to show them,” Erickson said.

Calcasieu Emergency Preparedness Director Dick Gremillion talked about the lessons his agency learned from the 2008 hurricane season and encouraged other OEP officials to make sure residents are informed.

“The meteorologists are experts on weather forecasting, we need to be experts on the impact of that forecast on the community,” Gremillion said. “We want people to know the elevation of their area and be able to explain what a 10-foot storm surge means.”

If your house is in a flood zone, you should have received an elevation certificate when you purchased the home. Gremillion also said people can call the OEP office to find out the elevation of their area.

He said the evacuations to north Louisiana shelters worked well, as did preregistering residents with special medical needs.

“We did have some communications problems with which shelters people were going to,” Gremillion said.

He said there are about 3,000 people in Calcasieu Parish without transportation.

“When evacuating people, we have to make that decision at least 72 hours in advance,” Gremillion said. That would avoid buses being on the road during tropical storm winds.

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May 28, 2009 at 4:10 pm Leave a comment