OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS (OHS&EP)
828 S. Irma Boulevard
Gonzales, Louisiana 70737
TEL: (225) 621-8360
FAX: (225) 621-8362
Ascension Parish is subject to the effects of many disaster situations, varying widely in type and magnitude. Disaster conditions could be a result of a wide variety of natural phenomena such as hurricanes, floods, severe storms, tornadoes, droughts and others. In addition to natural disasters, the parish is subject to the threat of other emergency situations such as transportation accidents to include those involving hazardous materials; plant explosions; chemical, oil and other hazardous materials spills; leaks and emissions; dumping of hazardous waste; utility service interruptions; civil disturbances or riots; terrorism and warfare related incidents. Ascension Parish is also located within the 50 mile Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) for the River Bend Power Plant, as well as Waterford III.
The Ascension Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness (OHSEP) provides emergency response coordination for internal emergency response agencies within all cities and townships of Ascension Parish. Additionally, OHSEP requests, coordinates, and distributes critically constrained, incident specific external resources to incident commanders within an area of operation. It accomplishes this by activating the Emergency Operations Center upon receipt of orders from the Parish President.
Director - Richard A. Webre
After graduating from East Ascension High School, began his career in the Louisiana petrol-chemical industry prior to enlisting into the U.S. Army in 1984. He has participated in joint task forces involving the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Forestry Service. While serving with the Military Police Corps he worked as a liaison to King County, WA and Vernon Parish Sheriff's offices. He preformed operations NCO duties for Law Enforcement Commands at two major Army installations: For Lewis, WA and Fort Polk, LA. He completed tours of duty with units such as the Office of Military Cooperation, Afghanistan and Joint Task Force Bravo, Honduras before retiring from the U.S. Army in 2004. Since then he has worked for the Department of Defense at Fort Jackson, SC as a Six Sigma project manager and as an executive training developer for the Solder Support Institute, which forms the proponents of the Adjutant's General Corps, Finance Corps, and the Recruiting Command of the U.S. Army. Upon retiring home to Louisiana, he has worked for the Department of the Navy in a command advisory role aligning human resource needs to the strategic goals of the U.S. Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Command, the 8th Marine Corps District, and the Naval Ambulatory Care Center in New Orleans. He has an Associate of Science Degree in Business Studies from Vincennes University, Vincennes, IN, a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Coker College, Hartsville, SC, and MBA from Webster University, Saint Louis, Missouri, and Six Sigma certifications from the Management Development Institute of Missouri State University, Springfield Missouri.
The Louisiana Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act of 1993 mandates that each parish in the state have an Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
Per the Parish Ordinance adopted January 1994, this office is responsible for the entire parish including the Cities of Gonzales and Donaldsonville, and the Town of Sorrento.
In 1986 Congress passed the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act as Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Re-Authorization Act (also known as SARA Title III). This law was enacted to help communities protect public health and safety and the environment from chemical hazards and to create the Local Emergency Preparedness Committee (LEPC) in each parish.
Some of the responsibilities of the LEPC are to develop a Multi-Hazard Emergency Operations Plan, conduct a hazards analysis, collect and store information provided by chemical facilities, and make that information available to the public upon request.
Our LEPC has elected to be a "Multi-Hazard" emergency preparedness organization dealing with natural as well as hazardous materials emergencies.
There are 46 members representing a wide variety of organizations and citizen groups.
The OHS&EP Director, Mr. Eddie Howard, currently serves as the Chairperson of this committee. Mr. Martin McConnell serves as the Vice-Chair, and Mrs. Joycelyn Bibbs serves as the Secretary.
The LEPC meets semi-annually - in January and July.
- The Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness has a participating role in the following:
- Ascension Parish Chemical Industry's CAER Committee
-Emergency Response Subcommittee
-New Business Orientation Subcommittee
- Fire Protection District
- Ascension Parish Technical Rescue Team
- Geismar Area Mutual Aid Association
- Ascension Mutual Aid Association
- Ascension Fire Chiefs’ Association
- Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Association - Board of Directors
- Louisiana Emergency Response Commission
- Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Task Force
- Various Mississippi River Emergency Response Organizations
EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER
- The Parish Council meeting room and adjoining kitchen serve as the parish's primary Emergency Operations Center (EOC), emergency feeding station, and emergency communications center during real-time emergency situations, emergency exercises and drills. The alternate EOC is the Parish Jail in Donaldsonville and the Mobile EOC in the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office Hazardous Materials Mobile Command Unit.
DECLARATION OF EMERGENCY
- In the event an emergency situation threatens the lives and property of Ascension Parish, the Parish President, under advisement from the OHS&EP Director, may declare a State of Emergency for Ascension Parish. This Declaration will enable OHS&EP to conduct emergency operations for the safety and security of parish residents.
- This office is responsible for public awareness of emergency preparedness and response issues. To accomplish this we publish and distribute the Ascension Parish Emergency Preparedness Guide that has appeared annually in the EATEL telephone directory since 1995. This Guide appears in over 80,000 EATEL telephone books and an additional 6,000 hand-out copies are distributed to every school teacher, industry, parish and city governments, law enforcement, hospitals, nursing homes, the Chambers of Commerce and civic and business organizations.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requires that parishes participating in the Emergency Management and Preparedness Grant Program conduct annual exercises to test the functions of the office. Exercises are conducted annually on a variety of topics such as man-made as well as natural disasters to assist emergency preparedness responders and support personnel to better understand their functions and responsibilities should an actual event threaten Ascension Parish.
- This office also participates in statewide Hurricane Preparedness Exercises conducted by the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness.
EMERGENCY TELEPHONE ALERTING SYSTEM
- New automated street maps prepared by the GIS Department have been distributed to emergency response organizations, industry, and the provider of our Emergency Telephone Alerting System. The maps are located in the Emergency Operations Center, the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and the Sheriff’s Office Central Dispatch Center. Changes to the map are discussed with GIS on a semi-annual basis and new maps prepared when deemed necessary.
The GIS Department has coordinated with our Emergency Telephone Alerting System provider to continually update the automation of this system.
SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA HURRICANE TASK FORCE
- The Ascension Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness actively participates in the activities of the Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Task Force (composed of 13 parishes and numerous state agencies) whose goal is to improve hurricane preparedness and response. Major topics are mass evacuation and re-entry, sheltering (especially of the special needs population), emergency conference call procedures, the Emergency Alert System, public information, and media issues.
EMERGENCY OPERATIONS PLAN
- An extensive four-year revision to the Parish Multi-Hazard Emergency Operations Plan was completed in 2002 and distributed to various agencies.
- The Sheriff's Office has adopted the state emergency preparedness plan for terrorism for use as a guide in Ascension Parish. Appropriate training is to be conducted by the Sheriff's Office.
STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES FOR EMERGENCY ALERTING SYSTEMS
- The OHS&EP prepares all Standard Operating Procedures for the Emergency Alerting Systems used in the parish. The Central Dispatch Center in the Sheriff's Office is the emergency contact for Ascension Parish and is responsible for activating the EAS (Emergency Alert System).
- The Ascension Parish Government, in cooperation with the Ascension Parish School Board, has designated eight public schools as primary shelters for use by Ascension Parish residents in the event of an emergency.
Depending on the severity of the emergency, NOT ALL of the eight schools will necessarily be utilized. Initially, only a few emergency shelters may be opened and as these shelters reach capacity, others will be opened.
When an emergency occurs which requires the opening of shelters, the public will be advised which schools are to be opened by announcements over the Parish Cable TV and Radio Emergency Alerting Systems and Baton Rouge television and radio stations.
The remaining public schools, as well as other public buildings, are available for use as additional shelters in case the need arises.
PRELIMINARY DAMAGE ASSESSMENTS
- We have developed an Automatic Call Distribution System to assist in procuring Preliminary Damage Assessments from the public immediately following a disaster. [This automatic system would reduce the urgency to send field representatives out to procure this information.]
ASCENSION PARISH TELEVISION (APTV)
- We are currently working with Ascension Parish Television to enhance emergency preparedness communications in both East and West Ascension.
EMERGENCY SUPPORT PERSONNEL
- This office has designated the numerous parish employees as well as volunteers as support personnel for the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness during emergency situations.