With the start of hurricane season just 10 days away, Jefferson Parish officials are urging citizens to start getting ready. They say levee work on both sides of the river is now complete, but they say there's no perfect system.
They gathered in the best-equipped operations center in the region, to sound the warning.
"If we ask you to leave, please leave," said Jefferson Parish Councilman Elton Lagasse.
Parish officials said with the region's $14 billion worth of flood-control improvements, they've never been in better shape.
"The Causeway has been raised, and all the levees in East Jefferson have been raised," said Parish President John Young.
But things aren't perfect.
"Certainly we're protected for a Cat 3 or lower, but not a Cat 5, so there's still work to be done," Young said.
Hurricane season begins on June 1, and parish officials said now is the time to make a plan; stock up on batteries, water and canned goods; and clear away dead limbs and trees around the house to keep them from becoming projectiles in a storm.
They're also urging citizens to sign up for reentry cards if an evacuation is ordered.
While most citizens will leave in a hurricane, emergency managers will remain in the parish's state-of-the art emergency operations center, complete with nearly 50 bunks and other upgrades.
"Radio system has made major improvements," said Charles Hudson with the EOC. "Now we're on the LWIN system that goes throughout the state."
In the past nine years, the Army Corps of Engineers has operated billions of dollars worth of floodgates, pumps and levee closures. But this hurricane season, for the first time since Katrina, that will not be the case.
"We're going to be operating the system for the first time on our own," said Tim Doody, with the Southeast Louisiana Flood Authority.
Though improvements have been made, there are still vulnerable areas.
"We still have areas around Lafitte, Crown Pointe, Grand Isle that need protection," Young said. "Short-term solution, elevation. Long-term, a ring levee around Lafitte."
But no funding for that has been found, meaning residents of lower Jefferson should be ready if a storm approaches.
They're all different, and you have to be ready to bob and weave," Young said.