State leaders urge residents to insure property, protect pets

Interior of the 18-wheeler for pet evacuations (Source: WAFB)
Interior of the 18-wheeler for pet evacuations (Source: WAFB)

(WAFB) - Louisiana state agencies are urging all residents to make sure their property and pets are covered this hurricane season. Since the August 2016 flood, that includes understanding insurance policies.

The storm had no name, but packed a punch great enough to knock some Louisiana homeowners off their feet. The August 2016 flood was a real eye opener for many people. Some who were comfortable living outside of a flood zone learned the hard way the difference flood insurance can make. Spokesperson for the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), Mike Steele, says that's why the state is urging all homeowners to have a talk with their insurance agents.

"A lot of people might think that they are covered more than they actually are, so it's important to have those conversations now before we have any weather event to see exactly what they have," Steele said.

A few inches of water can cause thousands of dollars in damage. The state says on average, an annual flood insurance policy costs about $700. Once you have made sure your property carries enough coverage, the state urges residents to have a solid evacuation plan. Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain says make sure your pets are part of that plan.

"Make sure your animals are properly vaccinated. Make sure your veterinary care is up to date, that you have your supply of heartworm preventative," Strain said.

If you have to evacuate, the state is ready to roll out its newest resource, a second big rig to treat and house a total of more than 100 animals. The 18-wheelers are fully equipped with kennels, lights, water, air conditioning, volunteers, and vets, as well as enough supplies for the animals on board. Strain says the state has a system in place to make sure you and your pet are never apart.

"Generally, if they are loading buses, wherever they are loading them, we are loading the animals too," Strain said.

State agencies have already opened their lines of communication to make sure their plans are in order, but they say those efforts will run more smoothly if residents do their part.

Every parish is required to have a pet evacuation plan. State officials urge residents to find out ahead of time what those are.

Copyright 2018 WAFB. All rights reserved.