Louisiana tests readiness for hurricanes

With the destruction caused last year by hurricanes Katrina and Rita still fresh in everyone’s mind, Louisiana has been testing its preparedness plans for the upcoming hurricane season, including the readiness of interoperable communications.

The communication tests were to be included as part of simulations and tests May 23-24, conducted under the Louisiana Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Functional Exercise/Communications Full Scale Exercise.

The state conducted the two-day exercise under what it calls a “no-fault” atmosphere, which was intended to expose any flaws in current plans and to establish a learning environment that federal, state, local and private entities could use to exercise their emergency protocols and open lines of communication for identifying improvements.

The exercise was intended to simulate the closely related tasks that comprise the pre-landfall and post-landfall initial response to a hurricane required by state, city and regional officials.

The exercise was to include full-scale role playing by people representing residents that needed to be processed through the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and the Union Passenger Terminal in New Orleans, while testing communications needed to deal with the city’s special needs and elderly population.

The East Baton Rouge Parish EOC was to use an evacuation of the Renaissance Village Trailer park, one of several federal facilities that still houses people displaced by Katrina, as the focal point for its segment of the exercise, during which the parish expected to validate its tactical interoperable communication plan needed for a forthcoming Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI).

The UASI is a federal Department of Homeland Security program aimed at improving emergency response throughout the United States.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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