Mayor Landrieu: "Be ready" for hurricane season

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With "hurricane season" underway, Mayor Mitch Landrieu briefed the city on its hurricane preparedness plans. Landrieu said the city “dodged a very difficult bullet” as the rising Mississippi River threatens much of Louisiana, but officials are assured "the levees are doing exactly as they’re supposed to be doing," he said. But, “We know we’re not out of harm’s way.”

"It’s wise of us to be aware hurricane season is upon us," he said. "Forecasters again have predicted a very aggressive season — that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re gonna get a storm, but it absolutely means we’re gonna have to prepare for one."

Should the city experience a potential Category 3 or higher storm, Landrieu will order a mandatory evacuation of the city, and the city's storm plan will kick in between 80 and 64 hours before coastal Louisiana experiences tropical force winds. Deputy mayor Jerry Sneed urged (twice) that there are no shelters of last resort in the city for a Category 3 or higher storm. The Regional Transit Authority will activate 17 pickup sites to send passengers to Union Passenger Terminal. RTA manager Justin Augustine stresses passengers bring only one piece of luggage — to carry on their laps.

Landrieu said situations like those inside the Louisiana Superdome and at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in 2005, leaving thousands stranded, are "not gonna happen," he said, stressing residents heed the city's warning and plan ahead. "If you can leave on your accord that's fine. If not, we have a way to get you out."

Landrieu urged residents to come up with an evacuation plan and supplies (batteries, bottled water, first-aid kits), and pointed to www.getagameplan.org and www.nolaready.info. Businesses looking for re-entry placards need to re-register at services.nola.gov. "The permission you had last time doesn’t exist anymore," Landrieu said. "The placards you had have now expired. You have to sign up again."

Though the Army Corps of Engineers has not completed all its flood protection projects, Landrieu said the system is “more robust” than before Hurricane Katrina and the 2005 levee failures. Mike Park, chief of the Corps' Task Force Hope, said its "system is stronger and more resilient than it’s even been before," though, "it's not done yet." The Corps has identified 21 flood protection locations still under construction.

Landrieu said he will continue to push both the White House and Congress for category 5 flood protection.

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