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Governor Jindalís 5 PM Update on Hurricane Gustav Preparedness Efforts, Announces 4 AM Contraflow Across South LA and School Closures
BATON ROUGE, La. (August 30, 2008) – Today, Governor Bobby Jindal held a press conference to give an update on state preparedness measures surrounding the impact of Hurricane Gustav on Louisiana. The Governor announced that contraflow would begin along south Louisiana at 4 AM Sunday morning. Additionally, the Governor issued an executive order closing schools in central and north Louisiana Tuesday and Wednesday to free up shelter space and bus resources for local residents and residents in south Louisiana.

Governor Jindal said, “The National Hurricane Center is reporting that the storm went into a high-end category 3 in 24-hours. It is now up to a category 4 storm, and expected to be a category 5 by late tonight. On this track, the storm is expected to make landfall Monday on the Louisiana coast, anywhere from New Orleans to Lake Charles, and as a category 3 or stronger.

“They are forecasting tropical storm winds around midnight tomorrow and a significant storm surge along our coast Monday and even up above coastal parishes. Fifty-four out of our 64 parishes in the state have now declared a state of emergency, including parishes as far north as Caddo and Bossier.”

The Governor announced that the following parishes have declared mandatory evacuations, and state continues to work closely with all coastal parishes as they execute their evacuation plans:

  • Plaquemines, St. Martin, and St. Charles Parishes – 12 Noon today, Mandatory
  • Lafourche Parish – 3 PM today, Mandatory
  • Terrebonne, St. Mary, and St. Bernard Parishes – 4 PM Today, Mandatory
  • Calcasieu Parish – Sunday at 12 Noon, Mandatory
  • Cameron Parish – Expected Mandatory evacuation Sunday Morning
  • Iberia Parish – 7 AM Sunday, Mandatory
  • Lower Jefferson Parish – Voluntary going on today
  • Orleans – Expecting mandatory tomorrow at 8 AM

The Governor also said that this morning he spoke to President Bush about the state’s response efforts, along with the Governors of Mississippi and Oklahoma (yesterday). Governor Jindal also met with Mayor Nagin again today in New Orleans.

Governor Jindal issued an executive order today, closing schools in 30 parishes on Tuesday and Wednesday. This will allow those parishes to provide shelters to their population in case the storm comes their way, and to assist South Louisiana in their evacuation efforts. The parishes affected include those in central and North Louisiana:

Avoyelles, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Caldwell, Catahoula, Claiborne, Concordia, DeSoto, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Red River, Richland, Sabine, Tensas, Union, Vernon, Webster, West Carroll, and Winn.

NATIONAL GUARD UPDATE:

The Governor announced that the Louisiana National Guard is in the process of requesting two multipurpose infantry battalions from Kentucky and Tennessee. These include more than 700 personnel each, who would help support possible response operations after the storm passes.

The 28 aircrafts the Guard requested from other states will arrive today in Esler Field in Pineville. These aircrafts will then reposition with the other guard aircraft in MS or TX prior to the storm. They will support sandbag operations and reconnaissance flights over the impacted areas.

Hundreds of soldiers and airmen from across the state are working in New Orleans as bus drivers and to assist in the evacuation operations. They will drive hundreds of school buses from the Department of Education to assist in New Orleans evacuation efforts.

Guard headquarter units are deploying today to Rayne, Breaux Bridge, Iowa, Napoleonville and Lake Charles to assist local officials in their evacuation efforts and the security of communities as people leave their homes. Six guard boat teams are also being staged at those locations to stand ready to assist in possible rescue operations.

CONTRA-FLOW UPDATE:
The Governor also announced today that the state is on track to begin the Central LA contra-flow plan at 4 AM Sunday morning and run through midnight Sunday. Louisiana State Police’s 1,150 force is currently working double shifts to assist in preparations for contraflow and evacuation efforts. State Police has already worked with DOTD to preposition cones and traffic signs along the roadways in order to prepare to activate contraflow operations.

EXECUTIVE ORDERS ISSUED TODAY:
Governor Jindal issued an executive order today to allow the travel of non-state employees in state vehicles during a time of emergency for evacuation. He also issued an executive order declaring a public health emergency to allow doctors to come in from out of state to support out operations, and an executive order allowing DHH to put more patient beds in nursing homes without regard to the bed restrictions in current state law. Additionally today, the Governor issued an executive order to give authority to the Office of Juvenile Justice to transport, contain and receive records concerning juvenile detainees during evacuations.

DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES UPDATE:
Governor Jindal announced today that the spike in demand for gas is now up from a 400% spike yesterday to a 600% spike, with a further spike expected when contraflow begins. DNR is working with refineries to help them stay open as long as possible – as much as 12 hours before the expected landfall of the storm.

Governor Jindal said DNR is calling all coastal parish EOC operations to identify fuel shortages and work with the industry to resupply fuel as needed. The Governor said that the state is working with St. Bernard Parish in particular to provide assistance to their personnel in evacuating, so they can remain at work in order to provide fuel supply for as long as possible before the storm hits. Jindal urged citizens to get the fuel they need to evacuate as soon as possible. Governor added that the EPA has approved the state’s requested waiver to allow the use of winter-blended fuel, which is more readily available, and the state is currently requesting a waiver on diesel fuel.

EVACUATION UPDATE:
Governor Jindal said today the state activated their request for FEMA to assist in the air and rail evacuation of residents in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, in accordance with their parish evacuation plans. As of the 5PM update, the Governor said that two FEMA general population planes were being loaded with residents, along with one medivac plane. One plane already left New Orleans for Fort Smith with 65 people earlier today.

Governor Jindal said that more than 100 commercial buses today, supplemented with hundreds of schools buses are assisting evacuation efforts across coastal Louisiana. The Governor said that the state has also identified additional spaces in several other states to shelter those citizens evacuating, including: MO, AR, TN, GA, TX, OK, KY.

Governor Jindal added that DSS has established a phone number to be used for the reporting of any unaccompanied minor children in shelters, which can be accessed by calling 1-888-LAHELPU (1-888-524-3578). This phone number is currently active and is available 24 hours a day.

DHH UPDATE:
Governor Jindal announced that DHH has 233 credentialed ambulances in the state to assist in evacuation and surge efforts.

The Governor announced that the state will receive additional ambulances tonight from other states, including:

  • 54 coming from FEMA
  • 7 from MD
  • 21 from AR
  • 5 from VA
  • 60 from PA

DHH has also today requested an additional 100 ambulances from FEMA, and they are working with Acadian Ambulance to identify additional units from other states. At 5PM, the Governor gave an update that 44 nursing homes have been evacuated, four have evacuated with DHH assistance, and DHH will be assisting six additional nursing homes that requested help. A total of 29 hospitals have evacuated, and five have fully evacuated. Additionally, the Governor said that DHH is asking the federal government to support them in adding 500 more medical special needs beds.

SEARCH AND RESCUE TEAMS:
Governor Jindal announced today that the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will begin moving their search and rescue (SAR) units - 300 boats and personnel - to staging areas organized in 10 boat squads. The units will have 300 to 500 gallons of fuel and will be self-sustained for at least three days. The Governor said SAR units will move into rescue areas after landfall and when winds drop below 40 mph.

The state has also requested four units manned for search and rescue operations from FEMA, which would be repositioned at Camp Beauregard along with the state search and rescue units. These units include one Type 1 (85 main team) and three Type 3s (35 man teams).

Governor Jindal said the state has requested another 85-member team from Alabama, and one each from North Carolina and South Carolina. The state is also working with Texas to possibly get a team from them if their state is not as affected. SAR units will stage on Monday, and be ready to respond. Additionally, the Wildlife department has requested an additional 200 agents through the EMAC from other states, in order to relieve our LA agents in their response operations.

DOC UPDATE:
Governor Jindal said that by this evening, DOC will have completed evacuating all prisoners – around more than 8,000, making it the second largest evacuation of prisoners in Louisiana history.

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