|The truck, which has 4-wheel drive, a 37-inch lift and air brakes, is large enough to go into high water for rescue operations and haul personnel and equipment.
||The Sheriff's Office new high-water truck for rescue and moving personnel and equipment, is shown at the Verret floodgate on La. 46 Ext. in eastern St. Bernard Parish. From left are Sheriff James Pohlmann, Capt. Bret Bowen, who heads the equipment division, and Maj. Mark Poche, head of Special Operations.
|Sheriff's Dep. Brian Cadzow, left, helps trusty prisoners make sandbags in preparation for hurricane season.
||Some 50,000 sandbags are stockpiled for use if needed.
June 21, 2013 - With hurricane season underway, the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office has a new weapon: a high-water truck bought with a federal grant and would be ideal for rescue or to haul personnel or equipment to respond to rain events, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
Combine that with 50,000 sandbags already made for use by residents, businesses or government to help block street flooding – as well as tested boats at the ready - the Sheriff’s Office is prepared for hurricane season, the sheriff said.
“With this parish having taken an enormous hit from Hurricane Katrina eight yars ago, we intend to always be prepared for hurricane season,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said. “The parish was tested again last year with Hurricane Isaac and I believe we did our best and came through it relatively well. Parish agencies worked well together.’’
Getting ready in advance is the most important thing, the sheriff said. “That’s true for every family in this parish,’’ he said.
“Don’t wait until you hear a bad storm is approaching before you think about being prepared, such as whether or where you would go, if necessary,’’ he said. “If you start to be prepared now, you avoid the rush at home supply stores and supermarkets which always get crowded and run out of things as hurricanes or tropical storms approach. Don’t wait until the last minute.”
“Give this some thought when you have a chance,’’ the sheriff said. “Have things like flashlights and batteries, bottled water, medicines in places where you can easily find them if leaving becomes necessary.
“Stock up if possible on things you would need to take if you left or need if you stayed in a storm and lost electricity for more than a day. Keep personal papers handy that you would want to have.
“Also, anticipate the needs of older relatives and decide what you would do with pets if you had to leave. It should be almost automatic for you by now to think of these things come summer, if you have lived in this area most of your life.’’
As for the Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Pohlmann said, besides boats and equipment being tested, plans are in place to move prisoners if necessary. Departments within the Sheriff’s Office have a hurricane plan to follow.
Parish prisoners, using a system developed years ago, make sandbags in preparation for summer, Sheriff Pohlmann said. There are now 50,000 of them stored.
The new custom-built F-650 truck, which has a 37-inch lift and air brakes, is an important addition in time for hurricane season, the sheriff said. “It’s meant for high-water situations’’ such as street flooding from heavy rains and could be used for rescue and moving personnel and equipment to where they are needed.
Also, members of the sheriff’s SWAT team train on various types of boats from the sheriff’s Marine Division in order to be prepared to immediately patrol neighborhoods in case of any type of rain event flooding.
“If parish government orders an evacuation of residents in any approaching storm we will facilitate that and then lock down the parish to prevent non-residents from entering,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said.
In the event of an ordered evacuation, he said he hopes residents would comply as they did in 2008 in the last time it was necessary because it would reduce the need for search and rescue operations if there was actual flooding in a storm, he said.
In an evacuation, the Sheriff’s Office “would quickly return to law enforcement functions, including patrol by boats if necessary, to protect property in the parish,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said. “We don’t want residents making a bad decision to stay simply out of concern over a possible burglary.’’
He said St. Bernard residents with special needs in the event of an evacuation should register with parish government’s Office of Homeland Security by calling (504) 278-4268 or 278-4468.
Residents can also register for the parish’s FirstCall Emergency Notification Service which provides timely information about hurricanes and other high profile events occurring in the area. These alerts will go to landlines, cell phones, SMS text messaging devices, email and pagers. Residents can now register on line at www.sbpg.net at the bottom of the page.
Early forecasts anticipate this year’s hurricane season, which began June 1 and lasts through Nov. 30, will be active.
The sheriff added, “Remember, we are so close to the Gulf of Mexico you can’t ignore hurricane season and must prepare yourself.”
If told to evacuate, make sure you have some cash to hold you over for a time.
Take with you several complete changes of clothing and footwear per person and remember family members with special needs such as infants, elderly and disabled persons and pets.
Your disaster preparation list should also include:
• Can opener
• Three-day supply of non-perishable food
• Bedding or sleeping bags
• Fire extinguisher (small canister ABC type)
• Bleach (no lemon or other additives)
• Mosquito repellent
• First Aid kit
• Water (one gallon per person per day)
• Eating utensils
• Tarp, rope, and duct tape
• Toiletries including toilet paper
• Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
For Baby —Formula, diapers, wipes bottles, powdered milk and medications. For Adults —Medicine, such as heart and high blood pressure medication, insulin, prescription drugs, denture needs, contact lenses and supplies and extra eye glasses.
For Pets—ID tag, photo of pet for identification purposes, weeks supply of food, medications, veterinarian’s phone number. Do not leave your pet behind. Transport pets in secure pet carriers and keep pets on leashes. Most emergency shelters do not admit pets. Check with hotels in safe locations and ask if you can bring your pet.
Entertainment —Books for adult readers and for children, board games and/or other games that do not require batteries or electricity.
Remember to keep important records in a waterproof, portable container, including:
- Inventory of valuable household goods and important telephone numbers.
- Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
- Important papers including insurance account numbers, checks and credit cards.