BATON ROUGE, LA (By: Tom Pace, Talk of the Town) BREAKING: GOVERNOR'S LOUISIANA EVACUATION UPDATE 8-29-08
Governor Bobby Jindal said Friday, August 29th “The most updated information from the National Hurricane Center shows that the storm is very likely to get stronger."
"As early as Saturday afternoon they will issue a hurricane watch and on Sunday they will likely issue a hurricane warning for Hurricane Gustav.”
“Louisiana will most likely begin to see tropical storm force winds Monday morning. These are very dangerous winds, and because people cannot drive in these conditions, we expect to begin contraflow Sunday morning or even late Saturday night,” said Jindal, who added, “They are now predicting this could be a hurricane category 3 or 4 storm, and the state is working closely with coastal parishes to aid them in evacuating their residents in a timely manner.”
Governor Jindal announced that a total of 19 total parishes have declared a state of emergency now, including: Acadia, Allen, Avoyelles, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Franklin, Iberia, Lafayette, LaSalle, Plaquemines, Rapides, St. Bernard, St. John, St. John the Baptist, St. Martin, St. Mary, Tangipahoa, Tensas, Terrebonne, and West Feliciana Parishes.
The Governor said, “Coastal parishes should be recommending that their residents voluntarily begin to evacuate today, and some will issue mandatory evacuations tomorrow, so residents are evacuated before contraflow begins on Sunday morning.”
The Governor added he met with LSU officials earlier in the day and they decided to move the LSU football game up to 10 AM to accommodate the expected evacuation timeline surrounding the storm.
Jindal also announced that Secretary Chertoff told him today that the state’s request for a pre-landfall disaster declaration has been granted by the President. This declaration will help the state get federal reimbursements for allowable costs in preparation and response to the hurricane.
Governor Jindal said that LRA Director Paul Rainwater is working alongside Mayor Ray Nagin in New Orleans to strengthen the city-state relationship in working through preparedness and possible response operations surrounding the storm.
As LRA Director, Rainwater has worked closely with the Mayor for many months on recovery issues. Rainwater formerly served as the chief administrative officer for the city of Lake Charles, the Director of Hazard Mitigation and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Louisiana Recovery Authority, and as the chief of operations and legislative director for U.S. Senator May Landrieu.
Today, the Governor ordered the Louisiana National Guard to activate the 2,000 guardsmen he alerted Thursday. More than 1,500 guardsmen arrived in New Orleans earlier today to secure the city as citizens being to leave their homes, as part of evacuation measures. The Governor also alerted the remainder of the National Guard’s available guardsmen today, making more than 7,000 troops available to support preparation and response efforts, as needed. There is now a total of 1,750 guardsmen in New Orleans, 42 in St. Bernard Parish, 256 in Jefferson Parish, and 122 in Plaquemines Parish.
The Governor also encouraged people to gas up their cars now, in preparation for an evacuation.
Governor Jindal said today that the state has requested the EPA to approve a waiver to allow the use of winter-blended fuel, which is more readily available during this increased demand on gas. The state is working with the industry to ensure fuel supplies along evacuation routes.
Governor Jindal also announced today that the 211 information number was activated so people evacuating and in need of a shelter can call the number to get information on what shelter check-in point they should go to.
Residents should call 211 today and they will provide a shelter check-in point. North of Alexandria the 211 system can provide shelter locations.
· At the shelter check-in point, workers will make a reservation at a shelter that can accommodate the needs of residents.
· Shelter check-in points will also be listed on electronic signs on roads across the state to guide people as they evacuate.
· Shelter check-in points are throughout the state and are also listed on official Louisiana evacuation guides. They include:
o Tourist Welcome Center, U.S. 65 & 84, 1401 Carter St., Vidalia.
o Tourist Welcome Center, 836 I-20 West, Tallulah.
o Paragon Casino, 711 Paragon Place, Marksville.
o Sammy's Truck Stop, I-49, Exit 53, 3601 La. 115 West, Bunkie.
o Med Express Office, 7525 U.S. 71, Alexandria.
o LSU-Shreveport, P.E. Gym, One University Place, Shreveport.
o Pickering High School, 180 Lebleu Road, Leesville.
o Mowad Civic Center, Fifth Avenue and 10th Street, one block off U.S. 165, Oakdale.
Governor Jindal also announced that Medical Special Needs Shelters will open today to shelter people identified with special needs, and there are 2,000 total medical special needs beds available.
These shelters are designed for individuals who are homebound, chronically ill, or who have disabilities and are in need of medical or nursing care, have no other place to receive care, and cannot evacuate on their own.
The phone numbers to assist those in need of a medical shelter were activated this morning. They include:
Region 1, New Orleans 866 280 2068 Local Number 504 599 0800
Region 2, Baton Rouge 800 349 1372 Local Number 225 925 7910
Region 3, Thibodaux 800 228 9409 Local Number 985 447 0879
Region 4, Lafayette 800 901 3210 Local Number 337 262 1150
Region 5, Lake Charles 866 280 2711 Local Number 337 475 3001
Region 6, Alexandria 800 841 5778 Local Number 318 487 5611
Region 7, Shreveport 800 841 5776 Local Number 318 676 5015
Region 8, Monroe 866 280 7287 Local Number 318 362 5001
Region 9, Mandeville 866 280 7724 Local Number 985 871 1308
PRESCRIPTION DRUGS AVAILABLE:
Governor Jindal also announced this evening that Medicaid has made a 30-day supply of prescription drugs available for Medicaid consumers. Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Humana have agreed to provide this 30-day supply to those who need it, and DHH is continuing to reach out to every insurance plan to request they provide the same service.
Governor Jindal announced that DHH has executed their MIEP today – a partnership with the federal government to have them help provide air support for those patients who need to be evacuated from hospitals.
As of now, those patients will be transported to facilities in Oklahoma City and Arkansas. There are currently four pick up sites for patients in Louisiana and by 4 PM today, all hospitals are to report their needs for patient air support assistance so they can be accommodated.
Governor Jindal also said that the state has requested 500 medical personnel from HHS to assist in the needs of patients evacuating, and 250 personnel should arrive in the state today. This includes two full DMAT teams (one for LSU and the other on standby), four strike teams of 5 people each, three medical shelter teams of 350 personnel, and additional technicians and support staff to help medical personnel on the ground.
The Governor announced that there will nearly 300 buses in the state by early tomorrow morning, more than 200 buses arriving tomorrow, in addition to several hundred school buses on hand to assist in evacuation efforts. The Governor said the state is also working with Texas to request additional buses to assist in evacuation efforts, as needed.
Also today, the Governor issued a state declaration establishing guidelines for the use of certain vehicles and trucks on our roadways in preparation for Hurricane Gustav.
The Governor said that the Department of Corrections is beginning to use federal and parish space to accommodate those inmates they have to evacuate and they will need to finish evacuating prisoners before contra-flow begins. He said they estimate 9,000 inmates will need to be evacuated statewide, and a new parish-state tracking system is in place to help keep track of inmates as they are moved during evacuation.
INFORMATION FOR PUBLIC ASSITANCE:
A website for those who want to donate supplies is www.aidmatrixnetwork.org or by calling 2-1-1.
Volunteers donating their time or services can visit www.volunteerlouisiana.gov, which has been activated to process information of folks online so the state can use their services as needed.
In cases of price gouging, citizens should report suspected incidents to the Attorney General-Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-800-351-4889 or submitting an inquiry to www.ag.state.la.us.
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