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Oct 09, 2008
DSS Releases Short-Term Sheltering Plan

BATON ROUGE - Department of Children & Family Services Interim Secretary Kristy Nichols today released the agency's short-term sheltering plan to address problems encountered during evacuation and sheltering operations in response to Hurricane Gustav.

 

"We believe that this short-term plan anticipates the needs and provides solutions for citizens that may need to seek shelter in a Critical Transportation Needs Shelter," Nichols said. "This plan particularly addresses the needs of the elderly, persons with disabilities, and families with young children."

"Citizens must have confidence in the system that they will be protected from harm, have appropriate shelter and supportive services, and be provided the opportunity to return to their homes as quickly as possible," Nichols said. "We believe this short-term plan is a first step in building that confidence."

For the past several weeks, DSS has met with stakeholders, including vendors, interest groups, previous evacuees and local officials, to receive recommendations on short-term solutions. DSS is continuing to work with these groups to ultimately provide a more in-depth, long-term plan for next season.

DSS will convene a statewide disaster sheltering summit on October 27 at the Shreveport Convention Center to discuss more long-term solutions, as well as refine plans released today.

Nichols said DSS anticipates many of the short-term solutions will be incorporated into the longterm plan and become permanent solutions.

"With a little more than seven weeks left in this year's hurricane season, we hope that we will not have to implement this short-term plan, but if Louisiana is threatened by an approaching storm, DSS will be prepared," Nichols said.

The short-term plan targets seven core areas of improvement for Critical Transportation Needs Shelter operations. DSS has immediately begun implementing the following changes:

Registering evacuees

  • Because connectivity problems hindered the registration and tracking of evacuees at Jefferson and Orleans parish pickup points (PPP), the department will switch to a manual registration process for these locations for the remainder of this hurricane season.

     

  • Other parishes will continue to use the Phoenix registration system as appropriate. If connectivity becomes a problem, DSS staff will immediately convert to a manual
    registration process.

     

Critical Transporation Needs Shelter Capacity (CTNS)

a. In-state

  • Louisiana will continue to operate four CTNS, although capacity is being downsized to eliminate overcrowding and lack of privacy
    • Former Sams Club in Shreveport
    • Former Wal-Mart in Bastrop
    • The Accent Building (former State Farm Building) in Monroe
    • The Former Outlet Mall in Shreveport
  • The Shreveport Outlet Mall will be not be used unless necessary, due to the need for significant remodeling.
  • To compensate for reduced capacity, DSS will utilize all non-state-run CTNS made available during hurricanes Gustav and Ike.
  • The CTNS will be redesigned to accommodate space needs for feeding, recreation and individuals with special needs.
  • Families will small children will be located next to play areas where parents can provide supervision.

b. Out-of-state

  • To ensure that we have an accurate number of out-of-state facilities that can accommodate evacuees, the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) is currently contacting our partner states that provided help and assistance during Hurricane Gustav.
  • The state will provide point-of-contact at out-of-state shelters to coordinate with local officials, provide status reports to GOHSEP and help with re-entry.
  • GOHSEP and DSS will create a written operational plan for out-of-state shelters.
Shelter Standards
  • DSS will use American Red Cross standards at CTNS shelters for hygiene services with a goal to make 10 percent of all hygiene units accessible to persons with disabilities.
  • To increase evacuees' sense of comfort at the shelters, DSS will apply a modified American Red Cross standard of 30 square feet per person for both pre- and poststorm sleeping arrangements.

     

Delivery of Services

  • State-run shelters will be pre-stocked with a three-day supply of Meals Ready to Eat, water and comfort kits, with extra inventory warehoused to replenish stock.
  • DSS will activate contracts for service vendors at H-96 (the number of hours before tropical storm force winds reach Louisiana's coast) to provide portable showers, toilets and hand-washing stations, prior to arrival of evacuees. These will also be provided for non-state CTNS shelters.
  • Prior to activating contracts, DSS will designate a single point-of-contact for vendors.

     

Human Services

  • CTNS facility layout will be revised to provide a separate area for evacuees with special needs.
  • DSS will work with DHH and our federal and local health care providers to provide enhanced medical care for CTNS.
  • Behavioral health counselors will be provided at each CTNS site.
  • DSS will work with local providers to identify contractors and proceed with medical monitoring agreements for the provision of adequate medical care in CTNS.
  • DSS will partner with faith-based institutions and non-profit children's advocacy organizations to help provide support and services for children and their families during their stay at CTNS.

     

Management/Staffing Structure

  • One DSS manager at each shelter will be designated as lead decision-maker relating to logistics and operations.
  • OK'S Cascade, the current management, operations and logistical support contractor, will provide at least 10 shelter team leaders at each site, with an additional member per every 10 evacuees at MSNS and per every 50 evacuees at CTNS.
  • DSS will explore the ability for vendors to employ shelter residents as facility team members, providing evacuees with a sense of responsibility, community and income.
  • DSS is working with state partners to reduce anxiety caused by heightened security presence in dormitory areas of the shelter.
  • For the remainder of this hurricane season, wands will be used to check individuals entering the facility, but DSS is exploring the possibility of securing walk-through detectors.

     

Communications

  • Shelters will have television and radio capabilities so residents will be able to monitor local, national and weather stations.
  • DSS is working with local phone companies to place phone banks in each shelter.
  • DSS is working with local officials to ensure a representative from each evacuated area is embedded at shelters to provide information to evacuees.

     

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