Major Disaster Declarations Signed for Louisiana, Mississippi

Major flooding and more than 700,000 homes and businesses without power remained as Tropical Storm Isaac slowly moves north over Louisiana.

President Obama signed major disaster declarations for Louisiana and Mississippi on Aug. 29 as Isaac, a hurricane now downgraded to a tropical storm, moved slowly to the northwest across Louisiana. More than 700,000 homes and business in Louisiana have lost power, and heavy rains are causing massive flooding.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm's center is expected to be over southern Arkansas by Aug. 31. All flights from Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans were cancelled Aug. 30 because the airport lost power, high-water rescues are continuing in some parishes, and some crews have begun working to restore power, The Times-Picayune reported.

Bill Mohl, Entergy Louisiana, LLC's president and CEO, said the company had assembled a workforce of more than 4,000 company and contract workers to respond to Isaac's aftermath.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Aug. 29 that the hurricane had cost state and local governments more than $24 million initially. Speaking at the state's emergency command center, Jindal said the state is spending about $14.7 million on storm expenses, and local governments had spent about $9.5 million so far.

Both CDC and the American Society of Safety Engineers wrote reminders to the public that the Atlantic hurricane season lasts until Nov. 30, so Americans living far beyond the reach of Isaac need to be adequately prepared. CDC's hurricane readiness tips are posted at www.cdc.gov/Features/HurricanePreparedness/ and include preparing emergency supplies in advance, heeding evacuation orders, how to get through the storm as safely as possible if ordered not to evacuate, and protecting pets. The agency recommends printing all important resources before a hurricane strikes, noting power outages during and after a hurricane can prevent someone from accessing information online when he or she most needs it.

The American Society of Safety Engineers advice concerns crisis management and the importance of having an emergency plan in place when a contingency situation, such as a hurricane, happens at work, at home, or in a community. For all three phases of crisis management (vulnerability assessment, response management, and, business continuity,) ASSE's suggestions include integrating emergency preparedness into an organization’s overall safety management system; conducting a vulnerability assessment; being in compliance with emergency response codes; knowing how to obtain assistance from federal and state agencies; having an internal and external communications plan; and providing emergency response training.

After a catastrophe, ASSE suggests that businesses do a hazard evaluation on structural security; safe entry; cleanup safety; air quality assessment; ventilation; interior and exterior exposures; protection equipment for fire and smoke alarms; possible electrical hazards; health/sanitation; office furniture; lighting; solid/hazardous waste removal; power checks; mainframes; machine inspections; and surfaces to prevent falls.

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