To mark the start of the 2014 hurricane season, parish presidents, city officials, and representatives from the levee boards and the national weather service met Friday at the Port of New Orleans and pledged to work together to make it a safe one.
The city’s deputy mayor for public safety, Jerry Sneed, says Hurricane Katrina drove home the point that planning for a hurricane means working together.
“All of our plans are intertwined with each other,” Sneed says. “Let's face it, if we plan for an evacuation, Plaquemines and St. Bernard have to leave first, and those types of things. So we’re coordinating our efforts, because we’re only as strong as our weakest link. The biggest fear we have is complacency, the longer we go without a big storm people come up with reasons why not to leave.”
The same warning about complacency came from Matt Moreland from the National Weather Service of New Orleans. Because of El Niño, he says, people are expecting a quieter season with fewer, less powerful hurricanes.
“The problem is, if you look back there’s been a lot of so-called quiet years where Louisiana got hit,” Moreland says. “[Hurricane] Andrew was one of the quietest seasons on record and Louisiana got hit by a major hurricane, so you have to be prepared every year.”
Officials stressed that being prepared means having quick and easy access to emergency supplies, knowing how to reach evacuation pickup points if you need them — and planning for all of these things well in advance.