Reconnaissance After Gustav Begins!

About the author: Mary Kemp is currently the Homeland Security Coordinator in the Dallas, TX regional office. Mary started at EPA in 1985 and has worked in the asbestos, Superfund, and air programs. She’s keeping us updated on how her office is responding to Hurricane Gustav.

Trailer at a household hazardous waste dropoff

Hurricane Gustav has left the Gulf Coast and moved into northern Louisiana, close to Shreveport. We have a team of individuals in the field currently conducting the Rapid Needs Assessment. We have been in touch with Louisiana today and understand that the state is planning on requesting FEMA to activate Emergency Support Function-10, which is the collection of household hazardous waste. The first picture is what a collection site for household hazardous waste might look. This picture is from Hurricane Rita.

From today’s Regional Incident Coordination Team meeting, we learned that there is wind damage in Terrebonne Parish. EPA’s Airborne Spectral Photometric Environmental Collection Technology (ASPECT) plane will be doing flyovers in Orleans and St. Bernard parishes. We will be conducting helicopter flyovers in other parts of the state of Louisiana later today. Some of the drinking water facilities are down due to no power. A boil water advisory will be issued by the State for some areas that were impacted. We are also working with FEMA to disseminate flyers.

Damage from Hurricane RitaOne might wonder what kind of damage occurs during a hurricane. I’ve enclosed another picture from Hurricane Rita showing damage in Cameron Parish. What I remember most from hurricanes Katrina and Rita were the number of trees uprooted, the number of church steeples blown off, the golden part of the McDonald’s arches being gone, and getting lost a lot because road signs were down. I am always amazed at the kind of destruction that Mother Nature can leave behind.