Prepare for evacuation: Know the routes

Lisa Yates, Editor

Evacuate now!

These words can cause panic and confusion during hurricane season.

A diabetic from Prairieville could flee without his medicine or prescription.

A Gonzales grandmother may forget her glasses.

That's why state and local officials urge residents to keep a disaster supply kit ready to go. Six basic items need to be in that kit: water, food, clothing and bedding, first aid supplies, tools and emergency supplies, and special items such as infant and medical supplies, and copies of important documents.

Equally important are evacuation routes, according to officials.

Richard A. Webre, director of Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness in Ascension Parish, said residents need to understand and follow the parish's official evacuation routes.

“Law enforcement will be on those routes to help if there's a problem,” he said.

He warned fuel and medical supplies may be unavailable if the area goes “off the grid.”

Webre said that's why it is important to stay on the evacuation routes. He said medical oxygen, fuel and other resources will be more readily available in case of emergency.

“We'll have a mobile unit from Fire Protection District One on the evacuation routes,” he said. “They can refill the medical oxygen tanks at no charge.”

He said Ascension Parish residents have two primary evacuation routes:

• On the East Bank, the evacuation routes are I-10 west and U.S. Hwy 61 north; and

• On the West Bank, it is LA Hwy 1 north

In addition, officials planned for alternate evacuation routes so people can evacuate depending on weather conditions and accidents.

Two alternate routes for East Bank residents include:

• Hwy 431 (north) to Hwy 447 to Hwy 190, then east to I-55 (north)-Miss. bound or west to I-49-Alexandria bound (north)

• Hwy 431 (north) to Hwy 42 to Hwy 63 (north) to I-49-Alexandria bound (north)

An alternate route for West bank residents includes:

• Hwy 405 (north) to Plaquemine to Hwy 77 (north) to Hwy 405 (north) to Plaquemine to Hwy 77 (north) to Hwy 190 (west) to Opelousas to I-49 (north)-Alexandria bound

Depending on the storm's severity, parish residents may be either asked to “shelter in place,” seek local shelter or evacuate the area.

The area is divided into sectors: A, B, and C, with designated reception areas where residents would receive help and shelter.

Shelters in Sector A will be filled first, followed by Sector B. Sector C is reserved for the state's special needs population such as those in hospitals and nursing homes will evacuate to reception areas.

Webre said everyone needs to follow designated evacuation routes to remain safe, especially those with children and special needs.

Then when there's an order to “evacuate now,” they will have the resources they need to survive.

Visit http://www.ascension-caer.org/egevac.htm for parish evacuation maps and more information.