Hurricane prep urgent as season begins

Published 12:12 pm Friday, May 30, 2014

Hurricane Season kicks off Sunday, which means residents, should start preparing now, if they haven’t already.
Director of Washington Parish Office of Homeland Security Tommy Thiebaud urges people to have a plan and disaster supply kit on hand for the duration of the season that ends Nov. 30.
“Parish President Richard Thomas is very concerned with public safety and he wants everyone to be prepared going into hurricane season,” Thiebaud said.
Some rules on disaster supply kits have changed since Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005.
One of those rules is to prepare a disaster supply kit with enough supplies to last at least seven days, Thiebaud said.
He said in the past, officials recommended three to four days of supplies.
Included in the disaster supply kit should be: one gallon of water daily for each person, non-perishable packaged or canned foods and juices, non-electrical can opener, cooking tools and fuel, blankets, pillows, seasonal clothing, first aid kit, medications, toiletries, flashlights with extra batteries, fully charged cellphones with an extra battery, important documents in a waterproof container, credit cards and cash because banks and ATM machines may not be available for extended periods.
Thiebaud said if someone has a pet, they should not leave it behind during an evacuation. He said to find a place that accepts animals during evacuations and make sure the owners have a carrier for the animal, ample supply of food and water, proper identification, medications and immunization records.
During hurricane season, the elderly and their caregivers should also take some extra precautions.
If a person has special needs that require electricity, make sure to evacuate or find a handicap accessible place that has electricity, Thiebaud said.
Washington Parish Council on Aging Community Outreach Advocate Annette Russo said the elderly in the parish can fill out a disaster preparedness survey that the Council on Aging keeps filed for emergency situations.
Russo said in the event of an emergency or incoming hurricane, the staff at the Council on Aging will call each person on the list to access their needs and talk to them about evacuation and other precautions they should take.
“It’s a great program that really helps the community reach out to the elderly,” Russo said.
The staff will usually recommend evacuating if it is ordered, Russo said. She said for those who are unable to evacuate, the staff will work with them to find a shelter or accommodations that are handicap accessible and able to handle special needs.
She said anyone interested in filling out the disaster preparedness survey can call the Council on Aging at 839-4535.
Thiebaud said the biggest concern for Washington Parish officials is laydown hazards like fallen trees and light poles caused by high winds.
He said flooding usually becomes a concern when there is a slow moving storm with heavy rains.
It is recommended that residents evaluate their property now for any potential objects that can cause harm to the house and neighbors, Thiebaud said.
He said to take into account lawn furniture or decorations that can become projectiles during storms or the potential of trees falling.
Weather radios are highly recommended by Thiebaud.
“They’re vital to people’s safety,” Thiebaud said.
He said in the case of tornados, receiving that information immediately through your weather radio can be the difference between life and death.
In the case of a tornado or if residents are planning to remain at home during a storm, they should move to the center of the house away from windows and have pillows or a small mattress that can be used as cover, Thiebaud said.