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09 - 09 - 2011

St. Bernard providing sandbags, asks citizens to be vigilant

St. Bernard providing sandbags, asks citizens to be vigilant Photo

The St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office is giving out free sandbags to parish residents at its sandbag barn in the old Kaiser facility at the rear of the Port of St. Bernard in Chalmette.

Meanwhile, parish government parish crews are continuing preparation work, and officials are in constant communications with the National Weather Service and surrounding key agencies to monitor the current weather situation, according to Parish President Craig Taffaro, Jr.
Chief Deputy Sheriff James Pohlmann the sheriff's office has 45,000 sandbags "that have been pre-made and are stockpiled in case of water events such as the one we are expecting.''
Parish prisoners make the sandbags throughout the year in preparation for the next hurricane season.
Motorists can enter the road to the port off West St. Bernard Highway at Keane Drive, next to the old Kaiser smokestack, and follow the road to the rear of the port, near the Mississippi River levee.
Sheriff's deputies will be there to assist, Pohlmann said.
The giveaway began at 10 a.m. Friday and will continue indefinitely.
Taffaro said parish government is "asking residents to help us indentify any trouble areas since we have literally miles of road construction under way. As this system stalls, this could present us problems in the eastern end of the parish where we could have water over the roadways, and we want those residents to carefully monitor the weather and the media updates.
"Although the integrity of our levee systems is better than it ever has been, we don't want people to use that as an excuse to not go through their individual preparation plans," Taffaro said.
St. Bernard is operating at full drainage and pumping capacity. Drainage canals have been pumped down to add additional storage capacity, Taffaro said. Public works crews are in the field making any necessary preparations and pre-staging additional pumps for trouble areas.
The St. Bernard Emergency Operations Center opened as of 9 a.m. Friday and will remain on partial activation into the weekend, pending the course of the weather. Taffaro said residents may contact the parish Emergency Operations Center with any specific concerns regarding a construction or road site at 278-4268.
Residents should secure any loose items around their homes, and they should survey their neighborhoods and pick up any loose and vegetative debris that may cause obstructions to the drainage catch basins.
Taffaro said now is a good time for residents to register with the parish's Emergency Notification Service Provider, FirstCall. The FirstCall Emergency Notification Service can immediately deliver emergency alerts to citizens and first responders. It gives St. Bernard Parish the ability to provide the community with important, timely information about hurricanes and other high profile events occurring in the area.
These alerts will go to landlines, cell phones, SMS text messaging devices, email and pagers. Mass numbers of residents can be alerted with important information in five minutes or less. To ensure you receive these emergency notifications to your home phone, cell phone, email, or SMS texting device, residents must sign up for the service. Residents can now register on line at on the top right hand side of the Department of Homeland Security page, or using this direct link. Also they may call the office at 504-278-4268. You must provide the name of your cell provider when registering for FirstCall.