The Natchitoches Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (OHSEP) stands ready to prevent, respond to, recover from natural disasters, acts of terrorism and any other disaster that could occur in Natchitoches Parish.
Sheriff Victor Jones serves as the Director of the OHSEP and has integrated the operations of OHSEP with the Sheriff’s Office. This allows the NPSO to fully train, communicate, and prepare for any potential disaster event.
Although OHSEP and the deputies of the NPSO work diligently to stand ready, we
should all acknowledge that preparedness is a shared responsibility. This calls for everyone in the parish, not just our government, to be prepared. With all citizens working together, everyone helps keep our communities safe from harm when confronted with an emergency or disaster event.
We have seen our share of weather disasters in Natchitoches Parish within the last year. In September, residents in the south Ashland area suffered a massive wildfire that destroyed over 2,000 acres of land. A joint effort of the Natchitoches Fire Districts, the La. Dept. of Agriculture and Forestry, the Sheriff’s Office, and OHSEP responded to and mitigated this event.
Also, we are all aware of the impact of the flooding that occurred last spring with property, crops, and livestock suffering significant loss or damage. Flooding typically occurs when prolonged rain falls over several days or when intense rain falls over a short period of time. However, the most common cause of flooding is due to rain or snowmelt in the northern rivers which carry it southward and impacts us via the Red River.
Last February, we had significant freeze and ice events which caused schools, roads and highways to be closed. With winter freeze disasters, heavy accumulations of ice can bring down trees and topple utility poles and communication towers. Even small accumulations of ice can be extremely dangerous to motorists. Bridges and overpasses are particularly dangerous because they freeze before other surfaces.
The potential of these events require our attention in being fully prepared. Sheriff Jones requests all citizens to be pro-active in being ready when a disaster strikes. The best preparation is listed in the official Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Guide, which is available at the Sheriff’s Office or you can request one from a NPSO patrol deputy. This guide provides the best tools in being ready including a 3 step plan of action:
Step 1: Put Together An Emergency Kit, which is a checklist of necessary supplies such as food, hygiene items, and important documents. Also, developing a family emergency plan to know what actions to take for particular emergencies is very important.
STEP 2: Make Preparations – Prepare a personal evacuation plan to be utilized if OHSEP issues an order to evacuate. Also, know what to do when a storm watch is issued, whether it’s a hurricane, tornado, flood or a winter weather advisory.
STEP 3: Stay Informed – Being ready and prepared only works if you are informed of an impending emergency. Louisiana participates in the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which is a public warning system. The system is used by OHSEP to deliver important emergency information such as Amber Alerts and weather information targeted to our area. The system uses digital technology to quickly distribute important emergency information that can be sent through a television, cable systems and mobile phones.
Also, we encourage you to sign up for CodeRed, which is a free mobile app that provides you with instant notifications on your mobile device of any emergency in our area.
The NPSO and OHSEP stand ready and prepared to fully respond to any potential disasters that may occur and ask the citizens to join us in our efforts.