In a City Hall press conference this afternoon, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said that there will be no mandatory evacuation issued for Orleans Parish, though he repeated that he "strongly encourages" residents living outside levee protections to evacuate.
"If your plan for an event like this was to leave, now is the time," Landrieu said.
Gov. Bobby Jindal, who also spoke at the press conference, said that, during a conference call with President Obama, FEMA director Craig Fugate and the governors of several Gulf Coast states, Obama gave his approval for a pre-landfall emergency declaration. Jindal said that beginning tomorrow, FEMA will begin sending additional MREs, tarps and other supplies to the state.
"We are going to need help after the storm as well," Jindal added.
The state has deployed 4,100 national guard troops, who are now driving evacuation buses and assisting at parish emergency operation centers. The troops will be instructed to assist with local law enforcement agencies should it become necessary over the next several days. Arkansas has also committed to send its National Guard troops into Louisiana if necessary, Jindal said.
State-run shelters are open and currently "underutilized," Jindal said, as are 5,000 slots opened by the American Red Cross.
"It's much better to have too many resources on hand than to realize too late that we didn't have enough," Jindal said.
City health commissioner Dr. Karen DeSalvo said city officials are contacting seniors and residents with serious medical needs who registered for city assisted transportation to state evacuation sites or shelters. As for medical services inside the city, Dr. Peter DeBlieux, director of emergency medicine for LSU Interim Hospital, told Gambit that services are running normally at the hospital's emergency room. Generally the patient count goes down during and before serious storms, DeBlieux said, because people are only coming into the hospital for actual emergencies rather than primary care services. Nevertheless, DeBlieux said, the emergency room is fully staffed.
Landrieu is scheduled to hold another press conference tomorrow at 12 p.m.
Update (5:17 p.m.) via @nolaready on Twitter:
"Last outgoing Greyhound bus leaves #NOLA tonight at 9:30pm; last incoming bus at 11:00pm. Terminal will be locked & secured after last bus."
And via mayoral spokesman Ryan Berni's Twitter account: "@ryanberni: There will be no flights tomorrow."
Important contacts, via a New Orleans City Council press release:
Non-emergency: 821-2222(NOPD) or 311
Mental health or special medical needs: 658-2500
Entergy: 1-800-9-OUTTAGE to report downed lines, power outage or gas leaks
Log onto entergy.com to sign up for text alerts regarding power restoration timing
Detailed hurricane-readiness information: ready.nola.gov
For additional information, visit www.nolacitycouncil.com and www.nola.gov