NEW ORLEANS(WGNO) — In Southeast Louisiana, we haven’t had to implement the system of traffic contraflow for all roads out of the region, since 2008 with Hurricane Gustav but as Hurricane Ida showed us, our hurricanes are becoming more powerful, more quickly.
Residents and elected leaders across the state, are starting to question whether our current model of contraflow, developed for slower moving storms, is as effective as it should be for evacuations.
Contraflow is a massive undertaking, requiring local mandatory evacuations, approvals from both Louisiana and Mississippi Governors, and assets across both states. The fact is that this committee is hoping to do a better job of saving lives in our communities.
In the last legislative session, State Representative Matthew Willard proposed a resolution to form the task force because of the growing strength of the slower-moving hurricanes.
“We really want to do everything that we can to protect our citizens, and I think at a minimum we need to study this process and study the process and look for ways to improve the process,” said Willard.
“I think we have a lot of at the local level. There are clearly plans, contraflow, as a major one for hurricanes at the state level. I think integrating them and making all of the timelines work together, to the greatest extent possible, I think will be a great outcome of this committee,” said New Orleans Homeland Security Director Colin Arnold.
Debra Campbell was chosen to chair the task force and she’s in favor of authorities deciding earlier to have citizens leave, “Let’s get as far as we can, as early as we can.”
“We’re a poverty city and so it’s hard for people to make the decision to leave, and if they can do something to educate the people and let them know we need to get out. We need to get out right now, and start early,” said Campbell, Contraflow Task Force Chair.