Hurricane & swine flu could mix dangerously

Source: FEMA
Source: FEMA

By Keitha Nelson - bio | email

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Officials are warning Louisiana residents to get themselves in gear and ready for what could come because this is the heart of hurricane season and although nothing has threatened the state's fragile coast, the Atlantic Ocean has now become quite active.

The remnants of Tropical Storm Ana recently made its way into the Caribbean without causing much damage there, but opening a few eyes along the Gulf Coast. "All it would have taken is a few changing factors, Ana could have come our way and it was headed straight for Louisiana and Texas," said Mark Cooper, director of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. "So, citizens shouldn't be thinking 'Hey, we made it.'"

Cooper met with Mayor Kip Holden, FEMA officials and other state officials Wednesday. Officials say people should not take the slow hurricane season for granted. They say this time around, Louisiana has an extra worry. Cooper says he and others hear this flu season will be worse than normal. He says there could be up to 60,000 cases of swine flu in the state before flu season comes to an end.

The fear is what could happen as people gather in shelters, on buses, and in the close quarters often shared during times of an emergency. Cooper says the state has a plan, though. "We're going to be screening individuals before they get on buses," he said. "So, if they're sick, they would go to a medical shelter."

Cooper estimates about 50,000 people would need transportation and shelter if a major storm hits. The state's primary concern will be for people who cannot evacuate themselves. Officials urge everyone to be prepared for what may come.

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