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Evacuations could become a more common occurrence in Louisiana this hurricane season, especially for those living in temporary trailers.
The Times Picayune, New Orleans, reported the state’s homeland security chief said Tuesday (April 18) that Louisiana’s coastal populations can expect five or six evacuations this year because of the threat of storms.
Speaking before the Senate Judiciary B Committee on a bill related to pet evacuations, Col. Jeff Smith Jr., acting director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said decisions to evacuate are made primarily by local elected officials, but his agency expects “multiple” occasions.
The governor can step in and ask for evacuations, he said.
Concerns about the state of the levees and the proliferation of travel trailers for temporary living quarters for thousands of families in southeast Louisiana probably will lead to a cautious outlook on approaching storms, Smith said.
Deano Bonano, deputy chief administrative assistant for emergency preparedness in Jefferson Parish, said he cannot forecast the frequency of dangerous storms but echoed Smith’s concern about the trailers, which are vulnerable to high winds.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided 16,000 trailers in Jefferson Parish, and Bonano said there are many more placed by businesses housing their employees and individuals acquiring trailers on their own.
Parish officials will ask people not to ride out any tropical storm or hurricane in a trailer, Bonano said. Those residents should move into their homes if habitable or leave the area, he said.
For the general population in houses, the parish will evacuate for Category 1 hurricanes or higher, Bonano said. A Category 1 storm has winds of 74 to 95 mph.
Hurricane analysts at Colorado State University are predicting 17 named storms this season, compared to the average of 10. Nine of the storms are expected at hurricane strength, with five at Category 3 wind levels, 111-130 mph, or higher.