Sheriff says department is prepared for hurricane season 2016 and residents are urged to do the same

Posted: June 1st, 2016 | Filed under: SBSO News
Sheriff's deputies train aboard department boats in preparation for any major rain or flooding event.

Sheriff’s deputies train aboard department boats in preparation for any major rain or flooding event.

Thousands of sandbags prepared if needed.

Thousands of sandbags prepared if needed.

 Parish Prison trusties filling sandbags in case they are needed.

Parish Prison trusties filling sandbags in case they are needed.

Sheriff James Pohlmann urges parish residents to be prepared for hurricane season,  which runs from June 1 to Nov. 1.

Sheriff James Pohlmann urges parish residents to be prepared for hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 1.

It’s not a season like baseball in which a public figure throws out the first pitch to mark the occasion.

But hurricane season for Southeast Louisiana is more important than a game, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.

It starts June 1, runs until Nov. 1, and with several major storms predicted this year it is time residents of St. Bernard and other parishes get ready to respond in case there is a storm that could force their evacuation or at least make preparations at homes or businesses.

Sheriff Pohlmann said it should be automatic by now for anyone who has lived in this area any length of time: When summer comes, be ready for hurricane season.

The St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office is prepared, the sheriff said.

The department has a plan in place, which includes boats at the ready, a high-water truck that would be ideal for rescue or to haul personnel or equipment to respond to rain events and thousands of sandbags already made for use by residents, businesses and parish government, the sheriff said.

“We intend to always be prepared for hurricane season,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said. ““Remember, we are so close to the Gulf of Mexico you can’t ignore the possibility of a hurricane.”

“Since Hurricane Katrina’s destruction, the parish has been tested by other storms, including Hurricane Gustav in 2008 and Isaac in 2012,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said. “We did our best and came through them relatively well. Parish agencies worked well together.’’

Getting ready in advance is the key, 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. “Think in advance about where you would go if an evacuation is called. Have things like flashlights and batteries, bottled water, medicines in places where you can easily find them if leaving becomes necessary.

“Stock up if you can afford it on things you would have to take if you left or would 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. The Louisiana ASPCA says pet-owners should never leave them behind when they evacuate because the animals would be at the mercy of the storm.’

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.

Acquired through a federal grant in 2013,, the Sheriff’s Office’ custom-built F-650 truck, which has a 37-inch lift and air brakes, is an important addition for hurricane season, the sheriff said.

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 in a storm.”

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. the last time it was necessary. because it reduces 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 and can reach the parish at (504) 278-4200.

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 register on line at

If ordered to evacuate, have cash to bring with you as well as several complete changes of clothing and footwear per person. 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
• Flashlights
• Sunglasses

For Baby — Bottles, formula, diapers, wipes, 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.