Laplace bracing for 2022 hurricane season
LAPLACE - Last summer, the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane Protection System was announced. The levees will protect communities against storm surges from Lake Pontchartrain, but it’s not ready yet.
"We’re still vulnerable to storm surge. No other way to say that. Until we are protected by the West Shore levee project, we are still vulnerable to storm surge,” parish President Jaclyn Hotard said.
Hotard explains why Laplace sees a lot of weather activity during the season.
"This is Laplace right here, and our development extends almost to the interstate. So as soon as these lake levels rise, this lake water just comes right into our development. That is why the hurricane protection levee is so important,” she explained.
Around Laplace, you can still see a lot of blue tarps in many residential areas as people are still recovering from Ida’s damage. But it’s already time to prepare for this hurricane season.
“We approach every hurricane season the same way. Let’s act like Hurricane Ida’s coming, and let’s hope and pray that it’s not,” she said.
Emergency preparedness personnel work around the clock in anticipation of June 1st through November 30th.
“What that looks like is that we start to have staff here sometimes around the clock. We start activating sand bags. We engage our schools because we use them as emergency shelters if we need to open up a shelter in the parish,” she explained.
That’s preparation on the front side of things, but then comes in-house preparations.
“We start holding emergency operation center meetings where all of the stakeholders are in the room, so we can hear what the sheriff’s office is doing to prepare, what’s Acadian ambulance doing,” Hotard explained.
The levee project isn’t scheduled to be complete until 2024, so that’s two, possibly three more hurricane seasons without levee protection.
“I know it’s a buzzword everywhere and people say our community’s very resilient, but I will say, as someone who’s been here forever, we do have a very resilient community. We recognize that natural disasters can happen anywhere, and many people still choose to say I want St. John and the river parishes and really southeast Louisiana to be home because really there’s no place like it,” she said.
St. John residents can get parish weather alerts, including information about evacuation routes, by texting SJPWEATHER to 888777.