DOTD on Contraflow and Other Info for Huricane Season
The 2013 hurricane season begins Saturday and Louisiana DOTD says they are ready. Several readiness, response and evacuation exercises have been conducted leading up to the official start of hurricane season on June 1. In an emergency situation, DOTD is responsible for the transportation of people and critical supplies, as well as public works and engineering functions such as contraflow, debris management, damage assessment, and emergency repairs to the transportation infrastructure.
Recently, DOTD staff participated in a test tornado warning message transmitted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio on March 6, as well as the Rehearsal of Concept (ROC) drill at the National Guard facility in Carville on April 25. Coordinated by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), ROC is a mock step-by-step hurricane response exercise that involves all Louisiana state agencies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Other efforts in preparation for the 2013 hurricane season included involvement in the MSY (Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport) evacuation exercise at which state and federal agencies participate in a simulated exercise involving the evacuation process using commercial aircraft.
DOTD and Louisiana State Police have contraflow plans ready in the New Orleans area. During contraflow operations, DOTD district personnel assemble needed materials, including barricades, cones, variable message board signs and any other signage required to implement a contraflow evacuation.
To maximize response efforts, DOTD has also decentralized many of its response activities to the district level, including vehicle staging areas for emergency evacuation efforts and debris management. They have identified staging areas throughout the state, rather than centralizing in Baton Rouge.
In addition to hurricane preparedness, DOTD has refined its emergency response plans to include response efforts for multiple hazardous threats and the incorporation of emergency operation response preparedness into normal day-to-day operations.
To assist with the safety of industry-related transport, DOTD helps to oversee the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP). LOOP is the nation’s first and largest deep-water facility operating under U.S. and Louisiana licenses. LOOP provides tanker offloading and temporary storage services for crude oil transported on some of the largest tankers in the world. Most tankers offloading at the facility are too large for U.S. inland ports.
Located 18 miles off the coast in 115 feet of water, LOOP handles 10 percent of all crude oil imported to the United States.
Since 2005, DOTD has developed a process to assist people without transportation to evacuate risk areas. DOTD also has established a fully equipped Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which includes a call center, an information center, a traffic and transportation team, and a public works and engineering team (lump together). The information center includes stations to monitor weather and all modes of transportation (marine traffic, rail, airports, and highways).
Additionally, DOTD managers remain in frequent contact with parish emergency operation directors throughout the impacted regions, assessing local needs and immediately responding with buses.
If the possibility of heavy rain, tropical storm force winds and flooding is forecast, DOTD will monitor the roadways for possible flooding, to remove fallen trees from the roadway, and to close any roads as needed.
For more information on severe weather preparedness, please visit www.getagameplan.org.