Distribution starts of printed emergency evacuation maps
Friday, June 17, 2005 at 12:00:00 AM

A printed version of the state’s new emergency evacuation map is now available, and the main focus is to encourage more South Louisiana residents to go north instead of west if the need arises.

            “We learned the lessons from the Hurricane Ivan evacuation, and we put those lessons to use in developing a new plan,” DOTD Secretary Johnny B. Bradberry said. “This document is proof that government can and does listen to the concerns of citizens.”

A coalition – comprised of State Police, the state Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), the state Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (OHSEP), and the American Red Cross – held a news conference this morning (Friday) to announce the start of map distribution.

Bradberry said to use the map properly, residents should decide where to go, read the map thoroughly and write down a personal evacuation plan.

The coalition urges residents to take the following steps:

  1. Come up with your own personal evacuation plan BEFORE the need for an evacuation arises. Each resident should know where you are going and how to get there.
  2. Expect traffic delays. It is impossible for Louisiana’s road structure to handle a full-scale evacuation without motorists’ experiencing delays. The 11 lanes out of the metro New Orleans area during contraflow can handle a maximum of 18,000 cars an hour.
  3. If a storm is approaching, leave as early as you can. The sooner you leave, the safer you will be.

The map and new contraflow plan is already available online on the following sites: State Police at www.lsp.org; OHSEP, at www.ohsep.louisiana.gov; DOTD at www.dotd.louisiana.gov; and the American Red Cross, www.preparelouisiana.redcross.org. Now the same information is accessible to South Louisiana households so each can start now to develop a personal evacuation plan.

Families and groups can call the American Red Cross to participate in presentations on how to use the maps to plan their evacuation routes.

The initial printing of 1 million maps was funded by the American Red Cross and the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

Before the map was printed, DOTD took the unusual step of convening focus groups in the New Orleans area to critique the map and make suggestions. The focus group process was invaluable in helping the state produce a map that was understandable and accurate, Bradberry said.