Where those residents would be transported is unclear. There is no plan in place to shelter evacuees in Lafayette Parish, but that doesn't mean that Lafayette intends to close its doors to future New Orleans evacuees.
New Orleans' plan calls for a total evacuation of the city within 36 hours of the governor and mayor announcing a mandatory evacuation. In a flowchart provided to the media, the city broadly outlined its "city assisted evacuation plan." One area of the diagram shows the New Orleans Convention Center as a processing center for evacuees and another area of the chart indicates that state and regional shelters "will be opened in anticipation of receiving evacuees."
But Mayor Nagin and New Orleans officials apparently hadn't contacted state and regional representatives before they announced their plans. Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden was upset with being left out of the loop and told The Advocate that Baton Rouge would not take in New Orleans evacuees. "The people in Baton Rouge need to be happy as well, and we can peacefully co-exist but not with somebody dictating to us what they want us to do," said Holden. The Advocate later amended its initial report, stating that Holden was talking about the River Center, not the other 51 designated shelters in the city.
Part of Nagin's plan calls for some elderly or infirm New Orleans residents to be evacuated by Amtrak trains. "We are talking to three different agencies ' the city, the state and the federal government ' about how we can be of assistance," says Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesman based in Chicago. "But if you're looking for specifics as to how many trains, going which way, carrying how many people, there's no such specificity."
Dr. Jimmy Guidry, state health officer with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, says his department has been in contact with the city of New Orleans. He notes that individual hospitals and nursing homes are required to have their own plans for evacuations, but if those plans fall through, the state can step in. "Since the hospitals are pretty much at capacity because we've lost so many in Katrina and Rita, our plan would be to activate the National Disaster Medical System to help fly patients out of state," says Guidry.
Mark Smith, spokesman for the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, says each city and parish is responsible for evacuating its residents, but if the need arises the state can provide assistance. "What is involved in [New Orleans'] processing plan is beyond me," he says. "I have no idea. That's something you would need to contact Ray-Ray about." Although the state would be involved with designating shelters by way of a task force, Smith says those final decisions rest with the Red Cross. "Typically," he says, "in the event of a disaster that requires sheltering, the Red Cross does the sheltering, so we work very closely with the Red Cross, but we don't interfere with their procedures." He says his department has been in contact with city and parish officials throughout the state about New Orleans' plans.
Bill Vincent, director of the Lafayette Parish Homeland Security and EmergencyÂ Preparedness, was unavailable for comment before press time. But Mike Mouton, Lafayette Consolidated Government's emergency operations and security coordinator, says Vincent is the man the state would contact in the event of a hurricane. Part of his job is planning evacuations out of Lafayette. Mouton's job is to activate that plan, but he has yet to hear from the state or New Orleans on where residents would be sheltered.
Cajundome Director Greg Davis only learned of New Orleans' plans through media reports the day after Nagin held the press conference. In one newspaper account, Davis read that the state would be responsible for determining where evacuees went from New Orleans. "When I read that I was wondering how facilities such as the Cajundome would be impacted," he says. "I'm expecting to get that word, and if I don't receive a phone call shortly, I certainly will be pursuing that information. I'm not going to go into the hurricane season not knowing that." As of press time, Davis had no further details about New Orleans' or the state's intentions.
Following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Cajundome sheltered 18,500 hurricane evacuees. At its maximum capacity, 7,000 residents lived in both the Cajundome and the adjoining convention center. The Cajundome operated as a shelter for two months, and it took another two months to repair and renovate the facilities, at a cost of $6 million. Davis says FEMA has agreed to pay most of the cost ' except $1.2 million, which the Cajundome is appealing.
Due to the scale of Katrina and the amount of displaced New Orleanians, Davis notes it was the first time that stadiums and arenas became shelters for extended periods of time in a role normally reserved for churches and community centers. The new shelters gave way to a new term ' mega-shelters.
Within 24 hours of the Red Cross taking over the Cajundome as a shelter in the wake of Katrina, Davis contacted City-Parish President Joey Durel and informed him that if evacuees were going to be properly cared for, he needed to take control of the facility. "The Red Cross did not have the ability to handle that," Davis says. "They were in over their heads [last year], so we took it back and managed the facility ourselves in partnership with the Red Cross."
As a member of the International Association of Assembly Managers, Davis was subsequently asked by the organization to chair a national task force to draft best practice guidelines for mega-shelters. IAAM's executive board is considering a 100-page draft titled "Mega-Shelter Best Practices for Planning and Activation" this week. If accepted, the organization will seek the endorsement of the Department of Homeland Security and the Red Cross. Another document is in the works for the operation of mega-shelters.
"I have the confidence that our state, parish and city emergency preparedness officials are aggressively working on that," says Davis. "And if I don't get the phone call, then I have the responsibility, as the director of the Cajundome, to get off of my butt and to seek them out, ask the right questions, get the right answers and then prepare this building to be a shelter, if that's what I'm required to do. I'm not going to shy away from the responsibility from doing that simply because no one picks up the phone and calls me. I'm totally confident that I'm going to get the answer, either through their initiative or my own."
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
Urgent Care clinics unprepared for Ebola; Nazis collected Social Security; Hawaii dodges a bullet and more national and international news for Monday, October 20, 2014.
Monday's Blogs from the Bog!
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.
Coming off the high of a fourth quarter comeback against Tampa Bay and a helpful bye week, linebacker Junior Galette sees a real turnaround coming for New Orleans' struggling defense.
Former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party's most popular surrogate this fall, is heading to Louisiana early next week for a campaign rally with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Time and again you hear people say DA Mike Harson is unbeatable because he's doled out political favors over the past 20 years. But a new lawsuit could end that speculation.
After the season's signature win (so far), here are some helpful tips for Cajun Nation during the conference stretch.
Did the state close last year's books with a surplus or a deficit?
Practicing without limitations on Wednesday, running back Mark Ingram looked ready to return to a New Orleans offense that once again ranks among the NFL's best when the Saints play at Detroit on Sunday.
It’s been decided: Superintendents of Louisiana’s public school system will retain the controversial powers granted by Act 1 of the 2012 session.
Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy has a bone to pick with the Jindal administration, which recently — surprise! — announced that the state ended the most recent budget year with a $178.5 million dollar surplus.
The messaging battle, however, isn't tied to individual campaign accounts. Third-party groups have poured millions of dollars into advertising.
With her political future in jeopardy, Sen. Mary Landrieu is turning to a natural constituent base in her re-election bid.
Terrance Broadway threw for a touchdown and rushed for 113 yards to lead Louisiana-Lafayette to a 34-10 victory over Texas State on Tuesday night.
Aligned with the party of an unpopular president, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu sought to keep her distance from the Obama administration, against claims from her chief Republican challenger Bill Cassidy that a vote to re-elect the Democratic incumbent was a vote for Barack Obama.
Seven people in Louisiana and two others in Mississippi have been arrested in connection with an international online sales scam.
Despite the hype and potential misinformation to have spread in the wake of Mark Cockerham’s recent departure from the LPSB, his candidacy for reelection is still on — now with the backing of the Chamber's Empower PAC.