LSU system plans for disasters

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 - 5:40pm

BATON ROUGE, La (FOX44) — If disaster strikes, LSU officials say they need to be ready for anything. That's why the entire university system is working on a huge plan of action, one that will keep schools and students safe from any number of hazards.

The plan has been in the making since 2009. It's the first of it's kind at LSU, thanks to a $680,000 grant awarded to the university system by GOHSEP and FEMA. The goal is to make sure all the schools in the system have the capacity to handle dangerous situations.

The university wants to be prepared for disasters like Hurricane Katrina. When the storm hit, the University of New Orleans wasn't ready for the worst. "We had a plan, but it was woefully inadequate," says Dr. John Kiefer. "How many plans could really be robust enough to stand up to a major catastrophe like Katrina? We found a lot of flaws [in the plan.]"

The school suffered tremendously. "Many of our faculty were adversely affected by that storm," explains Kiefer. "Many of our students had scattered, had moved to different locations. We didn't really have a physical facility to operate."

Katrina was a wakeup call for universities across the state. "It affects our very survivability," says Kiefer. "If you lose students long-term, if you lose faculty long-term, it is very, very hard to recover."

That's where the LSU Hazard Mitigation Plan comes in. A committee is currently trying to find all the different threats to the universities in the LSU system, so it can figure out how to react.

"Our goal for the plan is to make the campus more resilient to disasters," explains project manager Rusti Liner.

The plan will cover everything from hurricanes and flooding to on-campus shootings and even spills in a chemistry lab.

"It is an absolute priority to protect the students," says Liner.

Right now, there are strategies in place for all of those situations, but the Hazard Mitigation Plan will pull them together. "It really looks deeper into each of those plans to see if there are any gaps to make improvements," Liner says.

Right now, the plan is in it's earliest stages. You can learn more about it at http://dsm.lsu.edu/pr_hazmit.htm
 

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