State and local officials talk hurricane season readiness; food bank gears up

State and local officials talk hurricane season readiness; food bank gears up

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - State and local leaders said as the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches many lessons have been learned, and they are well prepared for the 2015 hurricane season which begins in June.

This as a local food bank prepares to assist hundreds of families that could be affected by a major storm.

Many pedestrians pass the huge pumping stations on the North and South Broad Street without much thought, but the pumps are never an after-thought for the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board.

"We've tested all of our systems and we're really prepared for hurricane season,” S&WB Executive Director Cedric Grant said.

Hurricane season begins next month and more mechanics are in place to reduce the chance of major flooding.

"More backup generators are in place,backup systems and redundancies are coming on line, so we're really in a good place,” Grant stated.

And from the S&WB's perspective the recent stormy weather that hit New Orleans was a good test-run.

"Quite honestly with the rain that we've had over the past two weeks we've had an excellent test of all of our systems and procedures and we fully are ready for the storm,” Grant said.

'We have nine regional coordinators,” Kevin Davis, Director of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said as he pointed to a colorful map, while he addressed regional planners in Metairie.

GOHSEP will coordinate the state's response in the event of a storm threat.

"Certainly, I think Katrina was a learning experience for many folks. I think we've filled many of those gaps,” Davis said.

Since Katrina, buses have been a part of the evacuation planning. Davis said the state has pre-contracts in place to secure hundreds of buses to help get people to state shelters.

Louisiana Armstrong Airport could also come into play, as part of the state's readiness and evacuation plan.

"At this point, we're not using the trains, we have aircrafts, if it's a major disaster,” Davis said.

At Second Harvest of GNO Food Bank it was a bevy of activity Tuesday as dozens of people filled 1,200 boxes with items like Ensure and Pedialyte to sustain adults and children for up to five days, in the event of a major storm.

"It's really pivotal to our preparation, all the result of the lessons we've learned over the last 10 years about how to be ready,” Natalie Jayroe, President of Second Harvest said.

"Really helping to support communities and being proactive in supporting hunger relief of those times,” Gerod Matthews of Feeding America said. Feeding America helped Second Harvest in securing major donations.

And officials said even though flood protection has improved in a number of ways since Katrina, pumping systems have limitations in terms of how much they can handle when faced with rainfall.

“One inch the first hour and a half an inch every hour,” Grant said.

Davis urged families to prepare for evacuation now by getting important papers and other items together and having information on prescriptions they will need to have filled.

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