Tropical Storm Cristobal amounted to little more than a minor rain event for Iberville Parish, but it provided a test run for what the new emergency preparedness director.
Forecasts of a busier than normal hurricane season – combined with the coronavirus pandemic – have set the stage for a challenging start for Clint Moore, who took the top spot at the Iberville Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
“I’ve been hit with a world pandemic and a tropical storm, all in the first year,” said Moore, successor to longtime director Laurie Doiron, who retired at the end of last year. “I feel like I’ve really been put to the test.”
Moore, a Dutchtown native, took the job after he spent nine years as an officer for the Plaquemine Police Department.
The pandemic kept him and other officials in crisis mode for much of the time since the case totals began to mount in Iberville and across the state during Marth and April.
He got a sigh of relief from Cristobal, which changed direction before landfall Sunday. The eastward movement minimized the effect the storm had on Iberville Parish and much of south Louisiana.
The storm brought heavy rains and moderate flooding to the New Orleans area and severe downpours along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but the storm spared Iberville and other parts of south Louisiana.
Preparations had been in place to prepare for shelters that would provide a separate area for evacuees who tested positive for the coronavirus.
“We had to talk to our representative at the Red Cross in case we had to do something, and they said going forward they want shelters at three designated areas,” Moore said.
The precautionary steps the parish put in place for Cristobal will play a role in safeguarding residents if or when another storm makes landfall in Louisiana this year.
“No pun intended, but we got our feet wet,” Moore said.
As part of those measures, the sites will also include a checkpoint where all evacuees most undergo a temperature screening before they enter the facility.
It’s a different and more complicated protocol for hurricane season, but it has not been limited to evacuees.
All officials who participate in the meetings pass through checkpoints that include a temperature station and hand-sanitizing stations.
The New Orleans area sustained minor flooding during the storm, but Cristobal otherwise spared Louisiana, as a whole.
The preparation gave state officials a game plan to follow for a potentially busy season, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday.
“This was a good test on hurricane response and preparation, and this includes all coordination with our partners with GOHSEP, as well as nursing home needs, and whether our current level of preparation and staffing needs upgrading,” he said. “This was only Week 1 it’s predicted to be a busy hurricane season with lot of activity throughout.”
Edwards urged residents log on to www.getagameplan.org for a comprehensive checklist on hurricane preparation.