Preparing for and recovering from emergencies is truly a team effort for the University. An extensive Hurricane Preparedness Committee exists with representation from all areas of the campus including our upper administration. This committee operates on a site-specific document that references preparations and recovery plans for all facets of our campus. Regular meetings are held by the committee to update information and ensure good communication within every organizational unit. All plans are implemented keeping in mind the safety of our students and employees, as well as preserving the academic mission of the University. The following general information pertains to the University’s Preparedness Plan:
- Contact lists shall be maintained and updated by EH&S director.
- Essential personnel have been identified in all departments. Department heads and directors are responsible for ensuring essential personnel report to work as they deem necessary to protect the University and its campus from damages.
- The EH&S director shall monitor all storms using data from the National Hurricane Center and other sources.
- When Lafayette Parish is within the five-day potential track of a named storm, the University shall initiate its phase I plans. The potential track of the storm will be identified using National Hurricane Center data and includes all potential errors.
- When Lafayette Parish is within the two-day potential track of a named storm, the University shall initiate its phase II plans. An administrative meeting shall be scheduled when the University reaches phase II status. Discussion of possible school closure will be included in this meeting.
- The president (or his designee) shall determine any school closures.
- When Lafayette Parish is included in any mandatory evacuation, declared by the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the University shall initiate its phase III plans. With the exception of emergency responders, all University employees and students will leave the campus immediately. Formal preparations have been pre-planned with Louisiana College in Pineville to accommodate pre-approved University student residents who have no means to evacuate.
- During times of emergency or school closure, current University information is available to the public by telephone at 482-2222, louisiana.edu, and universityupdates.com.
- If the University loses its primary telecommunications capacity, public information will be available at (765) 285-2222.
- Additional information from the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (OHSEP) can be found at getagameplan.org.
- Review your property insurance and pay attention to the coverage you have for wind storm damages. This coverage will be different for structures (home, outdoor kitchen, garages, etc.) and contents (furniture, clothing, appliances, etc.).
- Your Insurance policy may have a separate deductible for wind storm damage, and it is usually much higher than your standard deductible. This can range from 2 percent to 5 percent of the agreed value of your property. So, if you have a $200,000 policy on your home, and a 5 percent Wind Storm deductible, then the first $10,000 of damage from the storm is NOT covered by your insurance. You can work with your insurance agent to lower your deductible to fit your needs.
- Consider flood insurance even if you are not required to have it. Flood insurance is administered by FEMA, regardless of whom you have your insurance coverage with. The policy is the same for everyone. Of course, the premium depends on what flood zone you live in, and any history of flooding that may exist on your property. If you live in flood zone “X” (no insurance required) for example, flood insurance for a $200,000 house only cost about $25 per month. If you do not have flood insurance, and your property floods from either a storm surge or heavy rainfall, your damage from the flood is not covered.
- Any policy change takes 30 days to take effect. You cannot order additional insurance three days before a storm and expect coverage. Further, insurance companies do not write any wind storm or flood insurance when a named storm is in the Gulf.
- The decision to evacuate is a personal one for everyone. Most people wait too long to go, and are stuck in traffic, causing problems they did not plan for. Make a decision to evacuate early. Anticipate that you may only average 20 miles per hour over your trip, and plan accordingly. Although each storm is unique, most experts agree that if you have not left your house within 30 hours of the anticipated landfall, your risk of being caught on the road in severe weather is high.
- You will need cash to make this trip. ATM’s and credit card companies will be overwhelmed. Without electricity, the only thing a merchant can accept is cash.
- Study the official evacuation routes at www.getagameplan.org carefully in advance. Understand completely where you will be heading. Research five to 10 hotels well north of your home (maybe as far as 300 miles away). Write down their contact information so you can make plans quickly.
- Understand the concept of contraflow. For some distance, all lanes of traffic will be forced to move in one direction. This will affect your ability to move once you are within the evacuation route.
- Plan now at least two alternative routes using state and local highways in lieu of the interstates. One alternative route should head generally northeast and one northwest. In many cases, these roads will be less traveled and quicker, but you need a clear understanding of the road directions.
- Consider leaving home very early in the morning (before 5 a.m.). During this time, the roads will be less traveled and traffic will be light.
Special needs issues
If you have a family member in a nursing home or similar facility, visit the management of that facility NOW. Ask them to show you a copy of their emergency procedures, including any evacuation procedures for their patients. Make sure this coincides with your expectations.
Preventative maintenance around the home
- If you own a generator, you must run it regularly or the armature, a critical part that actually generates the electricity, may de-magnetize, rendering the generator useless. To prepare for this, at least once every three months, run your generator under a load (plug in a hair dryer, coffee maker, curling iron, etc.) for at least 10 minutes. Place the manufacturer’s suggested amount of fuel stabilizer (Sta-bil, Seafoam, etc.) in the fuel tank to prevent mechanical problems.
- If you want to protect your windows from flying debris, make shutters out of ½-inch plywood or oriented strand board (OSB). Label your shutters with spray paint (i.e. “Kitchen window”). Putting tape on the windows is completely ineffective in a wind storm.
- Regularly inspect the trees on your property. Any limbs or trunks that looked stressed or rotten should be pruned or cut.
Things people forget when they evacuate
1. Contraflow map with evacuation routes & alternative routes.
2. Prescription medications and special medical apparatus/equipment (ventilator, defibrillator, etc).
3. Important papers including social security cards, marriage license, birth certificates, etc.
4. A complete copy of your insurance policy including 24/7 contact information for filing a claim.
5. Consider lifting antiques and heirlooms off the ground. No insurance money can replace these.
6. Backup your computer to a jump drive or similar and take it with you.