Hands-on training helps emergency officials prep for disaster

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Disaster can strike at any time, that's why local emergency officials urge you to prepare now.

A scene all too familiar to the greater Baton Rouge community is families with no way out, getting pulled from rushing flood waters.

While these flood waters are long gone, another disaster could be right around the corner. That's why the state's top emergency officials, led by the Louisiana National Guard are using the Bonnet Carre Spillway to keep their skills sharp.

From rescuing stranded boaters to airlifting families to safety, these crews are preparing for whatever scenario may hit the state next.

Glenn Curtis, Adjunct General of the National Guard, said last year they saved over 20,000 people using air and boat rescue techniques. So, constant rehearsals of real life scenarios are key to their training, "To make sure that we're prepared, but also
to make sure where our systems are not complete or broke or where we have gaps, during this rehearsal we can go back, do additional staffing and find some partners or capabilities to help us through those gaps," said Curtis.

The trainings are so real that the Aqua Dam, which is made of trampoline-like-material and filled with water; helped save the Woman's Hospital from flooding. That dam was brought in for extra training, just in case of waters rise again, "It's water controlling
water," said Larry Campisi with Gulf Coast Aqua Dam.

With hurricane season a few months away, emergency officials have been reviewing the 2017 hurricane forecast.  For now, they said they don't expect anything unusual, "But that could change tomorrow. So we need to be ready, we will be ready," said a member
of the New Orleans District, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

With this training, they're even ready to rescue the family dog. However, Ronnie Mulberry with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture said it's still a good idea to have a pet evacuation plan, "We're out goal here is to save people's lives and we understand
that people in the event of disaster do not like to leave their animals."

"Complications have happened and will happen again so we want to prepare them as well as possible," Stephen Batuk with the Louisiana National Guard.

Talking about being prepared, right now if parish officials are interested in buying an Aqua Dam to protect against flooding, FEMA will help, covering 90% of the cost.

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