STATEMENT FROM GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL'S OFFICE:
Following severe weather in North and Southwest Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal has issued a statewide emergency declaration today to assist in the deployment and staging of state assets to support affected parishes in responding to the emergency.
The Governor's Executive Proclamation declares a state of emergency for all of Louisiana in anticipation of severe weather moving throughout the state through October 31, 2009. Additionally, the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana National Guard and the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries have dispatched resources and personnel to assist parish emergency preparedness directors and residents in response and recovery efforts.
Governor Jindal said, "Just as we did during Hurricanes Gustav and Ike last year, we know we must move quickly in every emergency situation to protect our people and their property. State emergency responders were already coordinating with local officials on the ground before the storms began and they will continue to work together to ensure that communities have the resources they need to respond to the impact of this severe weather event. This emergency declaration will help communities in need speed up their response and recovery efforts without being hindered by bureaucratic red tape."
GOHSEP, State Police and Louisiana National Guard officials were on the ground in North Louisiana prior to the severe weather and began working with local officials to immediately distribute resources to area residents. The Guard has sent two high water vehicles to assist with any rescues and GOHSEP has provided more than 200,000 sandbags to help retain high water. GOHSEP's Crisis Action Team (CAT) is also monitoring the situation. State emergency officials will remain in the area to provide necessary resources to residents and local emergency response officials.
The Red Cross has opened a shelter at Platt Elementary School located at 4680 Highway 80 East in Haughton and is currently providing shelter for approximately 15 families. At this time, there are approximately 33,000 homes without electricity reported in the Caddo/Bossier area.
Commissioner of Administration Angele Davis also announced today that due to high water and significant road closures, state government offices will be closed today in Caddo, Bossier, and Webster parishes. All agency heads are responsible for determining the essential personnel who should remain on duty or those who should report to alternative work sites.
EXECUTIVE PROCLAMATION ON STATE OF EMERGENCY - SEVERE WEATHER CONDITIONS
WHEREAS, the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act, R.S. 29:721, et seq., confers upon the Governor of the State of Louisiana emergency powers to deal with emergencies and disasters, including those caused by fire, flood, earthquake or other natural or man-made causes, in order to ensure that preparations of this state will be adequate to deal with such emergencies or disasters and to preserve the lives and property of the people of the state of Louisiana;
WHEREAS, when the Governor determines that a disaster or emergency has occurred, or the threat thereof is imminent, R.S. 29:724(B)(1) empowers the Governor to declare a state of emergency by executive order or proclamation, or both;
WHEREAS, a series of severe weather systems passed through the north and west part of the State beginning on October 28, 2009, consisting of strong winds, heavy rains and tornadoes. The system is predicted to continue affecting the entire State through October 31, 2009, causing local flooding. As a result of these weather systems, tornadoes severely damaged a number of homes in Bossier, Caddo and Jefferson Davis Parishes. Many parishes have experienced significant flooding. Bossier and Caddo Parishes have experienced power outages. Some parishes have closed schools and government office buildings as numerous roads prove impassable as a result of flooding;
WHEREAS, as a result of these weather systems, the following fifteen parishes have declared a state of emergency to properly respond to this incident: Bossier, Caldwell, Caddo, LaSalle, Morehouse, Catahoula, Red River, East Carroll, Ouachita, Jefferson Davis, Webster, Lincoln, Winn, Madison and Union;
WHEREAS, in response to this incident, the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness activated the Crisis Action Team at 1600 hours on October 29, 2009, to monitor and report on the incident and to respond to the requests of the parishes. GOHSEP, the Louisiana National Guard, the Department of Wildlife Fisheries and the State Fire Marshall have positioned personnel and equipment in affected parishes;
WHEREAS, many parishes are in need of assistance to respond to current conditions and anticipate needing further assistance as a result of rain swollen streams and rivers and that a declaration of emergency is necessary to allow state agencies to thoroughly prepare for any eventuality and to allow federal agencies and federal resources to be deployed if necessary; and
NOW THEREFORE I, BOBBY JINDAL, Governor of the State of Louisiana, by virtue of the authority vested by the Constitution and laws of the State of Louisiana, do hereby order and direct as follows:
SECTION 1: Pursuant to the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act, R.S. 29:721, et seq., a state of emergency is declared to exist in the State of Louisiana as a result of the damage and flooding experienced in the State and the threat of additional damages and flooding which has created emergency conditions that continue to threaten the lives and property of the citizens of the State.
SECTION 2: The Director of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is hereby authorized to undertake any activity authorized by law which he deems necessary and appropriate in response to this declaration;
SECTION 3: This state of emergency extends from October 28, 2009, through November 27, 2009, unless terminated sooner.