Tropical Depression 9 likely headed for Louisiana; prepare now


Storm information provided by OEP Director Mary Jones


With Tropical Depression 9 apparently headed this way, and with the one year anniversary of Hurricane Laura approaching, it is a good idea to prepare.

The following information is provided by the La. AgCenter.

Louisiana has been hit hard by numerous natural disasters in the past year.  And while there is no way to be 100% prepared, the LSU AgCenter recommends measures to mitigate potential damage and losses. These include preparations for yards, homes, pets and having food and cleaning supplies.  AgCenter food safety expert Wennie Xu said cleaning and disinfecting items such as soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, or general household cleaning and disinfecting supplies for surfaces are important, especially if a storm necessitates cleanup because of floodwaters or storm damage.

Having a three-day water supply is important. “It is best to buy bottled water and prepare for one gallon of water per day per person,” she said.  To keep food safe in the event of a power outage, keep the doors of your refrigerator and freezer shut as much as possible. “Frozen foods can be safely refrozen if they still have ice crystals on them or the temperature is 40 degrees or lower,” Xu said.  She also said to make sure you have a manual can opener, a food thermometer to monitor temperature and bleach if you need to sanitize utensils, pots and water.

AgCenter instructor and registered dietitian Sandra May said when preparing for a hurricane, keep in mind foods that do not have to be refrigerated before or after opening, will not spoil over a period of a few days, require little to no preparation and can be prepared without electricity.

“Be sure to have at least a three-day food supply for each person in the household,” she said. “Don’t forget to have enough food on hand for your pets as well.”  Another step for storm preparation is to make sure your home is ready.

AgCenter housing specialist Claudette Reichel said to remember the letter “s” for home projects. She said to inspect shingles, soffits, seals, shutters and surroundings.  Homeowners looking to replace a roof have hurricane-hardy options such as wind-rated shingles (Class H is best) and tear-resistant, synthetic underlayment. But if a replacement isn’t in the plans, Reichel said, homeowners can strengthen existing shingles with roofing cement.  “Put some dabs under the first course of shingles and along the gable ends where it is most vulnerable,” she said. “Roof damage is the biggest homeowners insurance loss following hurricanes.”

Reichel also recommended securing soffits (bottom surfaces) with polyurethane sealant and stainless steel screws. “Well-fastened soffits are less likely to get blown around, allow wind-driven rain into your attic and cause major damage,” she said.  Inexpensive caulk can be used to seal holes where wires, cables and pipes enter or exit your house.  When high winds are expected, flying debris can damage windows. Shutters such as lightweight translucent removable storm panels are a much more convenient alternative to heavy plywood boards, Reichel said.

AgCenter horticulturist Heather Kirk-Ballard said landscapes can contain hazards during a storm. She recommends inspecting large trees and shrubs for dead branches. A licensed arborist should remove any trees or large branches that may be an issue.  “Be sure that anything that can be picked up by a heavy wind is secured,” she said. “That includes tools, chemicals, trellising and planters.”

Keeping drainage systems clear of debris is an important task to keep stormwater from causing floods.  Preparation also means getting pets and livestock ready for a storm. AgCenter veterinarian Christine Navarre said microchipping animals or having identification for them in some way will help if you are separated from your animals. Navarre recommends storing identification numbers online in the cloud so they can be retrieved from anywhere.  She also said to prepare an emergency to-go box that includes contact information for animals’ veterinarians, medications, feed and leashes.