Evacuation drill to test procedures ahead of major events

(WVUE) - Recent flooding and Hurricane Harvey have local and state officials rethinking evacuation procedures.

It's been one month since the August 5 flooding in New Orleans and leaders are still looking to learn from that, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said his Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) is digging to find out how much rain is too much to handle in certain areas still vulnerable to flooding.

Edwards said it is important to note that the flooding on August 5 and the devastating floods from last year were not caused by a hurricane or tropical storm, just heavy rains.

With that in mind, city and state officials are meeting Tuesday to review the procedures that would trigger an evacuation.

New Orleans' longstanding trigger for evacuation has been a Category 3 hurricane.

But what if a forecast showed a line of storms bringing heavy rains every day for weeks?

Could and should officials still call for an evacuation on that basis?

Edwards said his office is looking at more than just the category of a storm.

In some scenarios, an evacuation order might be triggered by the amount of rain in a forecast.

"We are actually going to have a rehearsal of concepts," Edwards said. "It's called a rock drill at GOHSEP.

"Officials from New Orleans are going to participate in that because we have to look at a number of things that we may have to do differently. Not just about our evacuation system in when we call it and how we flow the traffic."

Edwards said officials need to plan in the event a major evacuation route, through south Texas, is not available.

That route is especially important in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which left travel to Texas difficult and in some cases impossible.

Officials want to ensure evacuees have a way to get to where they're going.

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