DOTD announces start of preparations for 2013 severe weather season

Friday, March 1, 2013 - 2:21pm

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) announces the start of its preparations for the 2013 severe weather season in conjunction with Louisiana’s Severe Weather Awareness Week, March 3 – 9, 2013.

“The success of DOTD’s response during any severe weather event depends on the personal readiness of DOTD as a whole,” said DOTD Secretary Sherri H. LeBas. “With that understanding, the Department is vastly committed to assisting with the evacuation and safety of the traveling public.”

Prior to the start of severe weather season, DOTD personnel conducts statewide severe weather readiness and response exercises, and meets to review and discuss evacuation and contraflow operations.

To kick-off its preparation for severe weather season, DOTD’s emergency staff will participate in a test tornado warning message transmitted by the NOAA Weather Radio Wednesday, March 6, 2013, at approximately 9:15 a.m.

In an emergency situation, DOTD is responsible for the transportation of people and critical supplies as well as public works and engineering functions such as contraflow, debris management, damage assessment, and emergency repairs to the transportation infrastructure.

Since 2005, DOTD has developed a process to assist people without personal transportation to evacuate risk areas. DOTD also has established a fully equipped Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which includes a call center, an information center, a transportation cell, and a public works and engineering cell. The information center includes stations to monitor weather and all modes of transportation (marine traffic, rail, airports, and highways).

Additionally, DOTD managers remain in frequent contact with parish emergency operation directors throughout the impacted regions, assessing local needs and immediately responding with buses.

If the possibility of heavy rain, tropical storm force winds and flooding is forecasted, DOTD will monitor the roadways for possible flooding, to remove fallen trees from the roadway, and to close any roads as needed.

For more information on severe weather preparedness, click here.

Evacuation and Contraflow

DOTD and Louisiana State Police have contraflow plans ready in the New Orleans area. During contraflow operations, DOTD district personnel assemble needed materials, including barricades, cones, variable message board signs and any other signage required to implement a contraflow evacuation.

Driving Safety Tips

DOTD urges motorists to use extra caution when traveling on roadways during hazardous weather conditions and stay off the roads whenever possible.

If driving in severe weather conditions cannot be avoided, motorists are encouraged to practice the following safety tips:

  • Drive slowly and carefully
  • Avoid driving while distracted
  • Avoid driving through standing water
  • Always allow for extra driving time
  • Reduce speeds when visibility is low
  • Make sure there is plenty of room between vehicles
  • Intersections with missing signage or signal outages should be treated as a four way stop

As always, DOTD reminds motorists to buckle up and refrain from drinking and driving.

Information on Traffic and Road Conditions

DOTD works in conjunction with law enforcement and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security to protect public safety by getting timely information to the public, such as identifying roads that need to be closed. Additionally, we work to ensure information is updated to the 511 system, which helps traveler’s access information about road conditions, traffic incidents, and weather. This information can be accessed via phone by dialing 511 or via the Internet by visiting www.511la.org

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is committed to delivering transportation and public works systems that enhance the quality of life. In addition to more than 16,600 miles of roadway, including over 930 miles of interstate, DOTD supports the development of the state’s aviation, marine and rail infrastructures. Through this work, we are able to facilitate economic development, create job opportunities, improve vital evacuation routes, and make critical freight corridors safer and more efficient.

For more information, please visit www.dotd.la.gov, email dotdcs@la.gov, or call DOTD’s Customer Service Center at (225) 379-1232 or 1-877-4LADOTD (1-877-452-3683). Business hours are 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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