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Aug 29, 2012
Governor Jindal Holds Unified Command Group Meeting, Updates on Storm Response

BATON ROUGE – Governor Bobby Jindal held a Unified Command Group meeting and a press conference today to provide an update on the state’s response to Hurricane Isaac.  The Governor is traveling to Plaquemines Parish today to meet with local officials and get a firsthand look at the search and rescue operations. 

For the Unified Command Group Meeting and the press conference, Governor Jindal was joined by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and General John Peabody, the Commander of the Mississippi Valley Division for the Army Corps of Engineers.  

Governor Jindal said, “This is a very slow moving storm which means there will be sustained periods of heavy wind and heavy rain.  The storm was almost stationary overnight and the eye of the storm is drifting towards the west-northwest. South Louisiana will continue to be affected by this storm throughout much of the day.  The storm made two landfalls in Plaquemines Parish and Terrebonne Parish.  

“The National Weather Service is already showing 5 to 7 inches of rain – and more in some cases – across a large portion of the south shore already with reports street flooding. We will likely see 12-16 inches of rain in South Louisiana. Tides are going to remain elevated through tonight and will start to gradually fall tomorrow. 

“South Louisiana will have high winds for most of the day, with winds gradually decreasing from east to west starting late this evening. We will see tropical storm force winds for 24-36 hours

“The eye of the storm will be around Baton Rouge starting this evening.  Baton Rouge is already seeing wind gusts of 40 miles per hour. In other words, Baton Rouge is just starting to get into the game. In Galliano, we are seeing 80 mile per hour wind gusts.

There have been storm surges up the Mississippi River.  We expect to see tidal surges of 6 to 9 feet West of the Mississippi River, 7 to 11 feet East of the Mississippi River, and 5 feet on canals and bayous on the West Bank.”

FLOOD/STORM UPDATE

To date, 56 parishes have declared a state of emergency. 

Parish Updates
On the East Bank in Plaquemines Parish, where there was a mandatory evacuation called at Noon on Monday, there was overtopping at the Braithwaite, non-federal levee. In order to release pressure, officials are looking at intentionally breaching the levee. 

The winds have shifted and they are now coming from the West and they are now blowing the water out of this area. The Caernarvon Diversion has been opened and that is taking water from the flooded area into the Mississippi River. The National Guard is on site with 14 high-water vehicles and 10 boats to help assist with search and rescue efforts. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has a Bravo Team on site with three boats. 

There are unconfirmed reports that between 9 and 40 people who need assistance. 

The levee has been under construction for about a year. There have been federal dollars appropriated for this levee since 2006

On the West Bank in Plaquemines Parish, there is an 8 foot levee and the models are showing that the water will reach 8 feet. The Parish President is issuing a mandatory evacuation for an area on the West Bank that is south of Belle Chasse. The parish estimates that there are about 3,000 people still there in this area. 

The National Guard is working with the parish to help evacuate the Riverbend nursing home on the West Bank. There are 112 residents and they are being taken to another facility. 

In St. John, they have shut down part of the water system. The state is working with them to provide water buffalos today.

In Terrebonne Parish, officials have requested about 5,000 tarps.  In St. Bernard Parish, the EOC has reported that the landline phone connections are down.  In Gretna, there was a fire at a commercial building with a private apartment on top. At this point, there is an unconfirmed fatality. 

DISASTER DECLARATIONS

Yesterday, 19 parishes were added to the federal disaster declaration for just federal direct assistance. Today, the state is requesting that the federal government add the other 30 parishes – which will cover all 64 parishes. The Governor said he is still pushing the federal government to declare a full declaration that would provide for reimbursement of expenses that the state has taken to prepare for the storm.

EXECUTIVE ORDERS

Yesterday, the Governor issued a few Executive Orders. He issued an order to lift regulations for vehicle escorts so vehicles with oversize loads can travel through Louisiana quicker and more efficiently to get supplies and resources like light poles and electric workers to those areas impacted by the storm. 

The Governor ordered that certain state vehicle regulations be waived so non- state employees can travel in state vehicles to escape from the storm or help with storm response. He also ordered a change to procurement requirements so that when state agencies contract for goods or services they can obtain the critical resources needed to respond to the storm as quickly as possible.

Governor Jindal also issued an Executive Order this morning that implements emergency rules suspending certain regulations and relaxing strict compliance with rules relating to insurance notices. Additionally, DEQ yesterday got word that the EPA granted a fuel waiver that would make it easier for gas stations to maintain their fuel supply.

AGENCY UPDATE

Louisiana National Guard

The Louisiana National Guard now has 5,023 Soldiers and Airmen on duty to support the effort. 

In Plaquemines Parish
  • In Plaquemines Parish, the LANG is providing a 20-man Security Team to Belle Chase High School, along with Guardsmen at the shelter in Belle Chase.
  • Currently, the LANG is assisting local authorities in Braithwaite by conducting Search and Rescue Missions with 14 high-water vehicles and 10 boat teams. They are evacuating citizens to the St. Bernard Parish Jail House.
In Jefferson
  • The LANG has staged a 75-man Security Team at the Yenni Building.
  • The LANG has 10 trucks on way to Lafitte with 8,100 sandbags and 91 2,000 pound sandbags. 
  • Guardsmen have completed setting up 2,000 feet of Tiger Dam in Lafitte. 
  • In Grand Isle, LANG has 6 troops and 2 high-water vehicles. 
In Orleans Parish
  • In Orleans Parish, the LANG has a 16-person roving patrol at the Super Dome, 24-person Security Team for six shelters, and staged 615 Guardsmen to serve as a Rapid Response Force and Search and Rescue Team. There are also 79 high-water vehicles. 
In East Baton Rouge
  • The LANG has delivered and staged a 350 kilowatt generator to Baton Rouge in order to deliver to Lukes Nursing Home in New Orleans case the contractor does not deliver. 
In Pointe Coupee
  • The LANG has a 12-man Security Team staged at the shelters.
In St. Bernard
  • The LANG has provided a Security Team at the Domino Sugar Factory and is supporting checkpoint security. There are also 13 high-water vehicles. 
In St. Tammany
  • The LANG provided 90 Guardsmen for security support. The LANG has 68 buses staged at the Gillis W. Long Center in Carville and is awaiting follow-on evacuation missions.
  • The LANG has large flat-bed trucks with trailers pre-staged at 6 locations as needed to deliver generators and equipment
In East Feliciana
  • The LANG has provided a 4-man team to support security missions as needed.
Aviation Support:
  • The LANG is repositioning two aircraft to Lake Charles as soon as possible to pre-stage for Search and Rescue operations in the first areas impacted by the hurricane.
Supplies
  • The state currently has enough MREs on hand for two days and officials are working to push more through the pipeline.
Louisiana State Police
  • I-10 at Laplace has been shut down due to 2 feet of water.
  • State Police is escorting fuel trucks in South Louisiana. 
  • State Police may have to relocate Troop L, which is located in Mandeville, because of power and water issues. 
SHELTERING/DCFS
  • As of this morning, there were an estimated 4,130 people in shelters across the state.
  • At that time, the current population at all state-run shelters (both CTN and MSN) was 730 evacuees. 
  • There were 553 evacuees at the Alexandria mega-shelter, 129 medical special needs evacuees at the LSU Field House and 48 at the Alexandria medical special needs shelter.   
  • At the request of the local Office of Emergency Preparedness, the evacuees at the Jewella shelter in Shreveport were moved yesterday to a Red Cross Shelter at LSU-Shreveport. 
  • There are an estimated 4,403 evacuees located at other parish run and Red Cross shelters around the state.  Of those, 1,016 were at parish-run shelters in impacted areas, and 2,387 were located at Red Cross shelters around the state.
  • The Louisiana Workforce Commission reported that 1,300 meals were provided for lunch today.
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HOSPITALS
  • Nursing home evacuations remain at eight facilities.  
  • 21 nursing homes sheltering in place and housing up to 2,233 residents have advised that they are on generator power, including:
    • 16 in region one
    • 4 in region three
    • 1 in region nine. 
  • Eighteen of the nursing homes have HVAC capability, four do not. One of those four has evacuated. The other three all have secured other cooling solutions, which are operational. 
  • At St. Luke’s Living Center in New Orleans, there was a generator issue. 
  • We have National Guardsmen and two electricians heading for the nursing home to help fix the generator and also bring a back-up generator. 
  • 22 hospitals have now advised that they are on generator power. All hospitals have adequate fuel. 
  • A generator requested at Villa Feliciana to power the water system arrived at 4:30 a.m. They have no power issues at this time.
  • Southeast Louisiana Hospital in Mandeville is currently on generator power after a tree on the property fell across a power line. The fire burned out and no one was injured. 
  • The LSU Field House remains activated as a Medical Special Needs Shelter (MSNS) and is not reporting any issues. The shelter has reached the maximum number of patients on electricity-dependent equipment it can accommodate with power supply. Special needs patients will be routed to the Alexandria shelter going forward.
  • The Alexandria shelter has capacity for 200 patients. 
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
  • A supervised offender crew from Dixon Correctional Institute filled 2,000 sandbags Tuesday at the Pointe Coupee Courthouse. 
  • A supervised offender crew from Elayn Hunt Correctional Center is working a sandbagging detail Wednesday at the Iberville Parish barn.  
  • Offenders from Avoyelles Correctional Center are filling sandbags at the facility for distribution to Avoyelles Parish residents. 
DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATION
  • The Division announced state office closures statewide for today, and will monitor conditions, working with GOHSEP, State Police, and DOTD, to make a determination about any continued office closures.
  • Spending to the date for the state is $14.7 million and $9.5 million for the parishes. 
LA DEPT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
  • The Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home in Reserve is now operating on generator power, and the generator is functioning properly. 

PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION/UTILITIES 
  • At this time, there are roughly 656,000 people out of power. That’s about 31 percent of the state. However, these numbers are changing and it is important to contact the Public Service Commission for the most up-to-date data. 
LDAF
  • LDAF has had requests to deliver 134,018 gallons of fuel. 
USACE
  • The USACE has reported that they have 100 generators in Baton Rouge. 
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
  • The Department of Education reports that 56 parishes are closed today, 38 are closed for tomorrow, but that number will likely change. 

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