Director of N.O. Homeland Security discusses changes
for upcoming hurricane season
05:14 PM CST on Monday, March 20, 2006
The Director of the New Orleans Department of Homeland Security said Monday there will not be a shelter of last resort for the upcoming hurricane season, and that he expects the season to bring added pressure from the federal government to evacuate.
Thousands of evacuees gathered along the I-10 at Causeway in the days following Hurricane Katrina to be airlifted to safety.
“My sense is the first time that a storm enters the gulf there will be a great deal of pressure across the nation from the federal government on down to get out of the city, so I think we’re going to be looking earlier in the cycle to get moving,” said Terry Ebbert.
Ebbert said a shelter of last resort would only be for first responders, including police and firefighters, as well as EMS and city workers left behind in the city. He said the convention center would be used as a movement center for transporting people out of the city.
“To get people out of town is going to take resources. I believe the federal government needs to direct Amtrak to develop a plan to help us evacuate, the federal government needs to bring in and activate the civilian reserve air fleet so that we can get those sick people quickly out of town to a new facility, and the state needs to come through with their portion of it which is bus transportation. Our job is to create a movement center where people can report to or we can use our buses to get people to, and we are going to use the convention center as that point. We will process each person, log them in, put them on transportation and get them out,” said Ebbert.
With the addition of thousands of trailers across the area, Ebbert said it would take assistance getting people out, possibly several times throughout the hurricane season.
“A whole new problem we did not have last year. In Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and Orleans, we are going to have 60,000 people in travel trailers and we have requested from the federal government a designation of the wind load that will require us to evacuate and I think this year we’re going to have to move people out of trailers into a facility, when we’re not even going to evacuate the city.”
Ebbert also mentioned the need for setting up regional shelters.
“The federal government needs to assist the state of Louisiana when we evacuate 35 or 40 percent of the population. It cannot be absorbed by the state, so we need regional shelters established by the federal government that will house up to 200,000 people,” he said.