Terrebonne ready for storm season

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Morganza build progressing: Flood protection system aimed at keeping Terrebonne dry
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Terrebonne Parish officials won’t be moving into their new emergency operations center until November, meaning they will still be working at their old digs on Capitol Boulevard this year.

And Earl Eues, the parish’s homeland security director, says everything is ready for what the new season might bring.

“We had a meeting with the new directors at our EOC, all the department heads appointed by the new parish president,” Eues said. “We are making them familiar with all the operations at the center for any type of emergency.”

The parish’s plans call for a mandatory evacuation if a Category 3, 4 or 5 storm threaten the coast.

For Category 1 and 2 hurricanes as well as tropical storms, there may be evacuations from some low-lying areas, but not on the scale of the higher end storms.

Eues also said that no shelters in Terrebonne will be available for a Category 3-plus storm.

Parish residents will be bussed to Monroe where a shelter will be in place. Terrebonne has already made a “point-to-point” agreement with that city.

Sheriff Jerry Larpenter said he is ready for whatever role his department might play to help protect live and property. The Sheriff will also have a representative at the Emergency Operations Center, where joint decisions on various actions will be made.

“The sheriff is part of our emergency support functions,” Eues said.

As for pets, Eues said that in the event of an evacuation pets – such as cats and dogs – may be taken.

“If the pet is small enough to fit into a carrier on your lap, you can evacuate with your pet on a bus up to Monroe,” he said. Large dogs will be transported separately, and kept at a shelter operated by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, with arrangements to be made for easy reunions once it’s time to come back home.

One caveat that Eues wanted put out loud and clear is that snakes will not be welcome.

For parish residents who can’t get themselves to H.L. Bourgeois High School, the transportation point for those going out of town by bus, arrangements will be made for pickups to bring people to the school.

Evacuees should prepare to bring one bag with necessities and a couple of changes of clothes, as well as medicines, toiletries and cell phone chargers.

“Make sure those are in your bag,” Eues said.

Re-entry policies remain the same as they were in most recent prior years.

Decisions will be made at the EOC on when residents will be allowed back in. Those who have businesses and have registered with the parish for re-entry placards will be allowed in first, although their family members may have to wait.

According to the plans in place, emergency officials will begin monitoring a storm at the EOC once it is 120 hours out. At 60 hours, evacuations of people with special needs, where needed, will commence.

The Parish President, Eues said, has ultimate authority due to the Louisiana Disaster Act.

“Everybody needs to have a game plan in the event we call for an evacuation,” Eues said. “Know where you are going to go, how you are going to evacuate, and have emergency contacts you can be in touch with to let them know you are safe. Please heed the evacuation orders if they are issued. Even though we have a great levee system around out parish it is not at a height that can protect lives, just property. We have raised a lot of homes. But the the raising of the home, too, is to protect property and not lives. When the order is issued, heed the order and stay away until the all clear is given. I wouldn’t say we are overdue, but it has been a while since we had a major hurricane. For people who haven’t reviewed their plans, now is a good time to get your hurricane supply kits, and get everything ready for what you will need when you do have to evacuate.” •

Terrebonne storm seasonFILE