Gov. Jindal urges residents to prepare for worst ahead of Isaac

With Louisiana's lower east coast in Tropical Storm Isaac's path Governor Bobby Jindal is urging residents to prepare for the worst ahead of the storm. At a news conference Sunday afternoon Gov. Jindal encouraged 15 parishes (from Terrebone to Plaquemines) in low lying areas to begin voluntary evacuations.

"I recommend our residents hope and pray for the best as we prepare for the worst. Those 15 low lying parishes below the Intracoastal and without levee protection need to consider voluntary evacuations today because they will likely be mandatory tomorrow. Make sure you and your families have a game plan because there is a lot of uncertainty with this storm and its track," said Jindal.

Jindal said he's already issued a state of emergency declaration ahead of the storm so we can get assistance should it be needed. So far 4,000 Louisiana National Guardsman have been placed on standby. Guardsman in Arkansas are also on standby, but Jindal does not think they will be needed.

DOTD has been placed on notice to activate 200 buses should they be needed for evacuation. An additional 50 school buses will also be made available. Jindal expects as more schools decide to close up to 150 school buses will be possibly be available.

In terms of evacuation the Louisiana State Police are also monitoring evacuation routes and prepared to issue a contra flow (where both lanes of traffic go in one direction) as early as tomorrow (Monday).

A shelter with 400 beds has been set up in Alexandria for those needed to evacuate. Another shelter is being set up at the Pete Maravich Center at LSU with approximately 200 beds.

The Governor said they are watching and closely monitoring the situation through the National Weather Service. Based on projections the National Weather Service is calling for Category 2 Hurricane when it makes landfall.

Projected storm surge varies from state to state. In Mississippi it's 7-10 feet. In eastern Louisiana it's 5-10 feet. Plaquemines parish can expect rapidly rising water around midnight Tuesday with other areas to follow.

Coastal areas can also expect strong winds. Tropical storm winds are expected to last between 24 -36 hours and hurricane force winds from six to eight hours. Forecasters are also looking at the possibility of tornadoes from Tuesday to early Wednesday.

Meanwhile they expect storm conditions to temporarily shut down offshore energy production in the Gulf of Mexico by 50% of oil and 40% natural gas. Jindal said they expect that number to rise if the storm should move further west: 90% oil, 75% natural gas.

The BP cleanup has also been suspended until further notice.

At 5 p.m. the Governor's office issued the following news release summarizing today's afternoon news conference:

BATORN ROUGE – Following a meeting of the Unified Command Group at the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Governor Bobby Jindal urged Louisianians to get prepared for Tropical Storm Isaac and encouraged voluntary evacuations for people in parishes in the hurricane watch zone that are in low lying areas, areas South of the Intracoastal Waterway and areas outside of levee protection.

Governor Jindal said, "Tropical Storm Isaac continues to track westward and a hurricane watch is in effect for 15 Louisiana parishes.  This includes the New Orleans metro area and the parishes adjacent to Lake Pontchartrain.  The National Weather Service expects the storm to become a hurricane in the next 12 hours and the current forecast shows it will become a Category 2 at landfall.

"We are encouraging everyone to get prepared now to ensure that you have an evacuation plan in place, plenty of water, non-perishable food items, hygiene supplies, sufficient clothing, and any prescription medications you or your family may need in the event of the storm.  We are urging Louisianians to stay alert and monitor local weather conditions in their area.  As with every storm, we always hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

"State and local officials are taking a number of steps to protect our people and property from the storm.  In addition to issuing a State of Emergency for the storm, we are in touch with parish leaders and we are recommending voluntary evacuations within the hurricane watch area.  Specifically, this is for people in low lying areas, areas outside of levee protection, and areas south of the Intracoastal Waterway."

Parishes in the Hurricane Watch area include:
•         Orleans
•         St. Bernard
•         Plaquemines
•         Jefferson
•         St. Charles
•         Lafourche
•         Terrebonne
•         Assumption
•         St. James
•         St. John
•         Ascension
•         Livingston
•         Tangipahoa
•         St. Tammany
•         Washington

•         Some parishes have declared a state of emergency, including:
o   Jefferson Parish
o   Orleans Parish
o   Plaquemines Parish
o   St Charles Parish

•         CPRA is coordinating with the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as area levee and conservation districts, to monitor rising water levels to determine appropriate times to close flood and navigation gates on area waterways if necessary.

•         CPRA is also coordinating with levee districts and parish emergency operations centers to monitor water levels on area levee systems and identify potential deficiencies to determine if additional assets are needed for potential flood fighting from elevated tides, storm surges or rainfall.

•         Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East:
o   Lake Borgne Levee District – Closed all gates on the Chalmette loop and will close Bayou Bienvenue structure today.
o   Orleans Levee District - closed 40 non-essential gates yesterday.

•         Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-West Field crews activated, and will begin closing non-essential gates today.

•         Corps of Engineers is considering closure today of the IHNC (Inner Harbor Navigational Channel), the massive floodwall that reduces the risk of storm surge from Lake Borgne pushing into St. Bernard Parish, New Orleans East, the 9th Ward, and Metro New Orleans.

Reports from Parishes
South Lafourche Levee District
•         System is open to navigation and lock closure will be reevaluated tomorrow morning.

Jefferson Parish
•         In the Laffite area, the state has repurposed $150,000 for emergency flood fighting
•         In Grand Isle, emergency work is being done on back levee between Orange and Walnut Streets, and on Caminada levee around Hebert Street.

Plaquemines Parish
•         CPRA offering assistance should back levees need raising or additional protection needed for Highway 23. 
•         Coordinating closure of gaps in ongoing Corps projects. Corps is going to make all closures with existing contractors on site.

Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District (TLCD)
•         All gates and structures remain open at this time. TLCD encouraging all marine boaters to keep a close watch on updates, and to mobilize marine vessels to safe positions. Anticipating closure of some structures late tomorrow (Monday) afternoon.


•         Governor Jindal has authorized the National Guard to mobilize up to 4,000 Guardsmen to help support the effort.  The National Guard also has 75 generators positioned if needed.


•         The state is activating contracts to provide buses to help with evacuations. By tomorrow, 200 buses will be available.
•         The Department of Education has also identified 50 buses, and if schools close, there will be approximately 150 buses from schools.
•         DOTD has also stopped collecting tolls on LA-1.

•         The state has 27,400 slots for critical transportation needs beds, medical needs beds and point to point shelters. In addition, Red Cross has 28,000 beds available.
•         DCFS is also working with day care and residential licensed facilities, as well as foster care parents, to ensure they have a plan in place.
•         DHH has provided a notice to members, including hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis network, and other medical institutions to update recall rosters, top-off generators, and take other preparatory actions for institutional readiness.

•         Coastal and Nongame Division personnel will begin securing all loose gear and small equipment items at coastal wildlife management area offices.
•         Additionally, all vehicles and boats will be fully fueled in preparation for any evacuation measures that may be required.
•         Over 200 agents and vessels are on standby, monitoring the storm and preparing search and rescue equipment.  The Enforcement Division will move equipment from the coastal parishes that may be in harm's way to the north. 
•         The Office of Fisheries will begin securing all loose gear and equipment items.

•         DNR has required Texas Brine to develop a plan to ensure safe operations in the area of the drilling operations and sinkhole in assumption parish. 
•         Prior to landfall, the drilling derrick will be layed down, all equipment will be secured and work will stop and personnel evacuated if necessary. 
•         DNR staff will remain on site to oversee these operations until the site is secured and evacuation begins.
•         50 percent of offshore oil production and 40 percent of natural gas production has been shut in. As the storm continues to move west, 90 percent of oil production and 75 percent of natural gas production is expected to be shut in.

•         All state correctional facilities and Probation and Parole District Offices were notified on Friday to review pre-storm plans and take necessary action (such as checking generators, topping fuel tanks, checking food and supply inventories, securing computer equipment, etc.).
•         The Department of corrections is working with coastal parishes to evacuate any inmates that need to be evacuated, starting with those in temporary facilities

•         If necessary, the Bridge City Center for Youth near New Orleans will evacuate youth to Jetson Center for Youth in Baker. Jetson is ready to receive the youth.

•         DEQ has 201 approved debris sites identified for the post-storm response.

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