LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, Calcasieu Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Department of Children, Schools, and Family, the City of Lake Charles, Department of Health and Human Services, Calcasieu Medical Corps, Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Transportation and Development among others came together at the Civic Center Thursday to hold a mock transportation drill in preparation for Hurricane Season.
"It's so important because, you know, when something like a mass destruction happens, and evacuations happen, people come to you, you want to be organized to make them feel more comfortable because if they come into chaos, it's just going to make them more nervous," As Angela Jouett, Calcasieu Medical Corps Director says. "Plus it helps us as agencies."
The initiative started over a decade ago when Southwest Louisiana was hit by Hurricane Rita.
"I think that was one of the first evacuations back in the day," says Jouett. "Then we had Gustav and Ike back-to-back, like a double evacuation. That's when we realized we needed to do this every year so we knew exactly what to do and all of our agencies that work with us would know exactly what to do."
Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Emergency Response Specialist Marc Ferguson says the annual drills are to make potential evacuations as easy as possible.
"We do this every year and we try to find things to make the flow better. We try to find kinks in our system. We find it, identify it, and work on improving it."
Jennifer Landry, OHSEP Emergency Planner, agrees, saying they work out the problems to ensure everyone is evacuated safely.
"We want people to be comfortable here because they are already going to be displaced. We want them to have a clear way, to get prepared that they are going to be going somewhere else for a little while. We want them to feel comfortable, that's what we are here for: to make the public comfortable in situations that are taking them out of their normal life."
The drill was worked through twice, checking to see any problems with the existing systems, and with hurricane season starting June 1, the agencies agree drills such as the one at the Civic Center Thursday will help them in a worst-case scenario.
Southwest Louisianans can sign up for alerts for extreme weather, such as hurricanes or flooding through the 7Storm Team app or through the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury's website. The same form on the CPPJ's website will also allow you to sign up for an evacuation if one were to occur.
To sign up for alerts and to put your address down to be picked up in case of an evacuation, you can click here.