Testing Evacuation Plans in Beauregard Parish

May 2, 2007

Reported by: Britney Glaser

We are just one month away from the start of the 2007 hurricane season, and today, an emergency evacuation exercise is planned for motorists on portions of US 171.

May 2nd has been proclaimed "Beauregard Parish Hurricane Awareness Day" and in an effort to test current evacuation plans through one of the typically more congested stretches of US 171, a contra-flow concept will be in place throughout DeRidder this morning.

During the exercise, which will run between 8:00 a.m. and noon, LA DOTD will zone off three lanes northbound and one lane southbound on US 171.  Law enforcement officers will be placed along the route and drivers are urged to actually participate in the exercise rather than drive an alternate route.

Captain Russell Haman with Troop D of the Louisiana State Police, says, "It may be a little bit slower, but we ask that you go through DeRidder. We want to see if it works. If everyone avoids it, then we won't be able to really check it.  Don't expect it to be a massive delay or anything like that, we feel like it's gonna flow real well."

The exercise will consist of setting up road cones, traffic signs and sign boards along US 171 in DeRidder, just like an actual emergency evacuation.  Chief Deputy Robert McCullough with the Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Office, says, "Of course, there won't be the number of vehicles involved as if it was an actual evacuation, but I think it should give a pretty good indication of whether this plan is feasible."

After the evacuation exercise is complete, officials with the Beauregard Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, as well as Louisiana State Police, LA DOTD, Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Office and DeRidder City Police will meet to discuss the success of the drill as well as ways to improve the process.