Long days and shorts weather are here—which means the Gulf is heating up like a cast-iron skillet over a low flame, getting ready to simmer up some tropical storms. You could wait until New Orleans is sitting in the dreaded “cone of uncertainty”—but this is highly inadvisable (and not just because you don’t want to fight your neighbors for scented votive candles and cans of Spam at Rouses).
The bottom line? A hurricane preparedness plan is an essential, potentially life-saving necessity if you live in New Orleans. Laura Mellem, public engagement manager in the NOLA office of homeland security and preparedness, offers tips for dealing with storms of all severity levels.
You definitely don’t want to be caught unaware when a severe storm is looming. Stay in the loop any way you can.
“Know what is going on during hurricane season, whether by signing up directly for NOLA Ready’s emergency alert or watching your favorite news station,” Mellem said. “You can sign up at ready.nola.gov or by texting your zip code to 888777.”
Make a plan
The severity of the storm will dictate whether you hunker down or evacuate. “For a lesser-grade storm, you can evacuate if you don’t want to deal with the power being out for a couple days, or you can create a plan to shelter in place,” Mellem said.
NOLA Ready offers a city-assisted evacuation process for residents who have no other way to evacuate. Seventeen pickup locations are marked by large statues that resemble a stick figure with one hand in the air.
“Volunteers pick residents up in RTA buses, take them to processing centers, and from there, to shelters around the state and neighboring states,” Mellem said. “But that is an option of last resort. You will be more comfortable if you go with family, friends, or neighbors.”
People with mobility or medical needs can sign up for the special needs registry by calling 311. “We will have an individualized evacuation plan for people who need to be picked up directly from their home,” Mellem said.
In the event of a mandatory evacuation, business owners get first priority for re-entry, as they often provide vital services for their communities. Get more info or apply for a reentry placard online.
You’ll need a go bag for mandatory evacuations and a home kit for times when you shelter in place. A list of essentials for both is available at NOLA Ready’s website.
For the home kit: “It should be enable you to be on your own for at least three days: nonperishable food for everyone, including pets, three gallons of water per person, medications, a radio, flashlight, books, and games,” Mellen said.
For the go bag: “Include food, water, medical supplies, IDs, cash, a list of emergency contacts and important documents (birth certificate, deeds, insurance policies, marriage certificates)—anything you might need to file paperwork in the case that you are gone from home for a long time,” Mellen said.
For more information, check out a Hurricane Readiness Fair hosted by the City of New Orleans from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 11.