Contact: Denise Bottcher or Roderick Hawkins, 225-342-9037
LAFAYETTE and LAKE CHARLES, La. – Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco announced today that citizens of southwest Louisiana can now pick up their own copy of the state’s new southwest emergency evacuation guide at dozens of locations throughout the area.
“Do not gamble with your safety,” Gov. Blanco said in urging citizens to take hurricane evacuations seriously. “We learned important lessons from the Hurricane Rita evacuation, and we used those lessons to develop a new plan.”
Blanco said the guide should help every family develop its own personal evacuation plan.
“Residents should educate themselves about the plan, decide where to go and write down a personal evacuation plan. Make a list of all your travel needs now and post it where you can easily find it,” Gov. Blanco added.
The state plan, developed by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) and Louisiana State Police, would be activated in the event of a western strike, as in Hurricane Rita, and involves two points of contraflow, or reversed lanes of traffic, on the interstate system. All traffic on both sides of Interstate 10 from the east end of the I-210 loop to U.S. 165 will be directed east, and all traffic on both sides of Interstate 49 from I-10 to the town of Washington will be directed north. Contraflow operations would be triggered when local officials call for mandatory evacuations in Lake Charles and Lafayette, approximately 30-40 hours before tropical storm force winds are predicted to hit Louisiana’s coastline.
Contraflow operations were used very successfully in the pre-storm evacuation of the New Orleans area before Katrina. The state’s plan safely evacuated approximately 1.3 million people before the storm made landfall.
DOTD, Louisiana State Police, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) and the American Red Cross urge residents to take the following steps:
- Get a copy of the plan and read it carefully. The plan is available at dozens of locations. A distribution list is attached.
- Come up with your own personal evacuation plan BEFORE the need for an evacuation arises. Residents should know where they are going and how to get there.
- If a storm is approaching, leave as early as you can. The sooner you leave, the safer you will be.
Gov. Blanco also said residents should be prepared to face traffic delays during an evacuation. It is impossible for Louisiana’s road structure to handle a full-scale evacuation without motorists’ experiencing delays.
“The best advice is to leave early,” the governor said.
Gov. Blanco kicked off the guide distribution today at two news conferences: one at State Police Troop I in Lafayette and one at State Police Troop D in Lake Charles.
Residents can access the southwest Louisiana contraflow map on DOTD’s Web site at www.dotd.louisiana.gov/maps.
Additional Media Contact:
Lt. Lawrence McLeary
Public Information Officer
Louisiana State Police