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|Jindal orders mandatory evacuations; contraflow begins Sunday morning|
BATON ROUGE – Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Saturday that contraflow would begin in south Louisiana at 4 a.m. Sunday morning. Jindal also issued an executive order closing schools in central and north Louisiana on Tuesday and Wednesday to free up shelter space and bus resources for local residents and residents in south Louisiana.
"The National Hurricane Center is reporting that the storm went into a high-end category 3 in 24-hours," Jindal said at a news conference.
"It is now up to a category 4 storm and expected to be a category 5 by late tonight," Jindal said. "On this track, the storm is expected to make landfall Monday on the Louisiana coast, anywhere from New Orleans to Lake Charles and as a category 3 or stronger.
"They are forecasting tropical storm winds around midnight tomorrow and a significant storm surge along our coast Monday and even up above coastal parishes. Fifty-four out of our 64 parishes in the state have now declared a state of emergency, including parishes as far north as Caddo and Bossier."
Jindal said the following parishes have declared mandatory evacuations, and state continues to work closely with all coastal parishes as they execute their evacuation plans:
o Plaquemines, St. Martin, and St. Charles Parishes – 12 p.m. Saturday, mandatory
o Lafourche Parish – 3 p.m. Saturday, mandatory
o Terrebonne, St. Mary, and St. Bernard Parishes – 4 p.m. Saturday, mandatory
o Calcasieu Parish – Sunday at 12 p.m., mandatory
o Cameron Parish – Expected mandatory evacuation Sunday morning
o Iberia Parish – 7 AM Sunday, Mandatory
o Lower Jefferson Parish – Voluntary evacuation Saturday
o Orleans – Expected mandatory evacuation at 8 a.m. Sunday
Also, Jindal said he spoke to President Bush Saturday morning about the state's response efforts. He spoke as well with the governors of Mississippi and Oklahoma. Jindal also met with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin again on Saturday.
Jindal issued an executive order Saturday, closing schools in 30 parishes on Tuesday and Wednesday. That will allow those parishes to provide shelters to their population in case the storm comes their way, and to assist south Louisiana in their evacuation efforts. The parishes affected include those in central and north Louisiana:
Avoyelles, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Caldwell, Catahoula, Claiborne, Concordia, DeSoto, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Red River, Richland, Sabine, Tensas, Union, Vernon, Webster, West Carroll, and Winn.
NATIONAL GUARD UPDATE:
Jindal said the Louisiana National Guard was in the process of requesting two multipurpose infantry battalions from Kentucky and Tennessee. These include more than 700 personnel each, who would help support possible response operations after the storm passes.
The 28 aircrafts the National Guard requested from other states were expected to arrive Saturday in Esler Field in Pineville. These aircrafts will then reposition with the other guard aircraft in Mississippi or Texas prior to the storm. They will support sandbag operations and reconnaissance flights over the impacted areas.
Hundreds of soldiers and airmen from across the state are working in New Orleans as bus drivers and to assist in the evacuation operations. They will drive hundreds of school buses from the state Department of Education to assist in New Orleans evacuation efforts.
National Guard headquarter units are deploying today to Rayne, Breaux Bridge, Iowa, Napoleonville and Lake Charles to assist local officials in their evacuation efforts and the security of communities as people leave their homes. Six guard boat teams are also being staged at those locations to stand ready to assist in possible rescue operations.
Jindal said the state is on track to begin the central Louisiana contra-flow plan at 4 a.m. Sunday and run through midnight Sunday. Louisiana State Police's force of 1,150 officers is currently working double shifts to assist in preparations for contraflow and evacuation efforts. State Police has already worked with the state Department of Transportation and Development to preposition cones and traffic signs along the roadways in order to prepare to activate contraflow operations.
EXECUTIVE ORDERS ISSUED TODAY:
Jindal issued an executive order Saturday to allow the travel of non-state employees in state vehicles during a time of emergency for evacuation. He also issued an executive order declaring a public health emergency to allow doctors to come in from out of state to support out operations, and an executive order allowing the state Department of Health and Hospitals to put more patient beds in nursing homes without regard to the bed restrictions in current state law. Additionally, Jindal issued an executive order to give authority to the Office of Juvenile Justice to transport, contain and receive records concerning juvenile detainees during evacuations.
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES UPDATE:
Jindal said the spike in demand for gas is now up from a 400 percent spike Friday to a 600 percent spike, with a further spike expected when contraflow begins. The state Department of Natural Resources is working with refineries to help them stay open as long as possible – as much as 12 hours before the expected landfall of the storm.
Jindal said DNR is calling all coastal parish EOC operations to identify fuel shortages and work with the industry to resupply fuel as needed. He said the state is working with St. Bernard Parish in particular to provide assistance to their personnel in evacuating, so they can remain at work in order to provide fuel supply for as long as possible before the storm hits. Jindal urged citizens to get the fuel they need to evacuate as soon as possible.
Jindal said the Envrironmental Protection Agency has approved the state's requested waiver to allow the use of winter-blended fuel, which is more readily available, and the state is currently requesting a waiver on diesel fuel.
The state activated its request for FEMA to assist in the air and rail evacuation of residents in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, in accordance with their parish evacuation plans. As of 5 p.m. Saturday, Jindal said that two FEMA general population planes were being loaded with residents, along with one medivac plane. One plane already left New Orleans for Fort Smith with 65 people earlier today.
More than 100 commercial buses in addition to hundreds of schools buses are assisting evacuation efforts across coastal Louisiana, according to Jindal. The governor said that the state has also identified additional spaces in several other states to shelter those citizens evacuating, including: MO, AR, TN, GA, TX, OK, KY.
Jindal added that the state Department of Social Services has established a phone number to be used for the reporting of any unaccompanied minor children in shelters, which can be accessed by calling 1-888-LAHELPU (1-888-524-3578). This phone number is currently active and is available 24 hours a day.
Jindal said the state Departmen of Health and Hospitals has 233 credentialed ambulances in the state to assist in evacuation and surge efforts. The state will receive additional ambulances tonight from other states, including:
o 54 coming from FEMA
o 7 from MD
o 21 from AR
o 5 from VA
o 60 from PA
DHH also requested an additional 100 ambulances from FEMA, and they are working with Acadian Ambulance to identify additional units from other states. As of 5 p.m. Saturday, Jindal said 44 nursing homes have been evacuated, four have evacuated with DHH assistance, and DHH will be assisting six additional nursing homes that requested help. A total of 29 hospitals have evacuated, and five have fully evacuated. Additionally, Jindal said that DHH is asking the federal government to support them in adding 500 more medical special needs beds.
SEARCH AND RESCUE TEAMS:
The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will begin moving their search and rescue (SAR) units - 300 boats and personnel - to staging areas organized in 10 boat squads. The units will have 300 to 500 gallons of fuel and will be self-sustained for at least three days. Jindal said SAR units will move into rescue areas after landfall and when winds drop below 40 mph.
The state has also requested four units manned for search and rescue operations from FEMA, which would be repositioned at Camp Beauregard along with the state search and rescue units. These units include one Type 1 (85 main team) and three Type 3s (35 man teams).
Jindal requested another 85-member team from Alabama, and one each from North Carolina and South Carolina. The state is also working with Texas to possibly get a team from them if their state is not as affected. SAR units will stage on Monday, and be ready to respond. Additionally, the wildlife department has requested an additional 200 agents through the EMAC from other states, to relieve agents in their response operations.
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