Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
Situation Update 2
August 31, 2008 -- 1:15 p.m.
OKLAHOMA ASSISTING GULF COAST REGION IN ADVANCE OF HURRICANE GUSTAV
As part of Oklahoma’s continued response to Hurricane Gustav, Gov. Brad Henry said the state has agreed to accept evacuees fleeing the projected path of the storm.
Gov. Henry has told Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal that Oklahoma can receive evacuees to be housed at the old Lucent Technology Center, 7200 W. Reno in Oklahoma City. State emergency management officials are working directly with the City of Oklahoma City in making the facility suitable for a temporary mass-care shelter. Oklahoma has also agreed to assist Texas evacuees if necessary.
Preparing for evacuees is one of several measures that the State of Oklahoma has undertaken as Gustav continues toward the Gulf Coast. About 20 Oklahoma Highway Patrol members have been dispatched to Louisiana, while units of the Oklahoma National Guard are already assisting with hurricane response in both Louisiana and Texas. A number of disaster response agencies in Oklahoma – including the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and other faith-based organizations – are also working to provide assistance.
Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) officials continue to work out the details for the evacuees’ transportation to Oklahoma. Additionally, others who self-evacuated are beginning to arrive in the state. The number of evacuees from Louisiana and Texas who ultimately seek refuge in Oklahoma will depend on the storm path and other factors.
A State of Emergency, as declared by Gov. Henry, remains in effect for Oklahoma. The State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) remains activated.
The storm is now a category 3 hurricane and is expected to make landfall Monday around 1 p.m. near Houma, La. A Hurricane Warning is posted from Cameron City, La. eastward to the Alabama-Florida border. A Hurricane Watch continues for High Island, Texas (just east of Galveston) eastward to Cameron City, La.
The center of Gustav is located about 375 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. Movement is toward the northwest at 16 mph and a decrease in forward speed is expected on Monday. Maximum sustained winds are near 120 mph and Gustav is forecast to regain Category 4 status later today or tonight. Hurricane force winds extend outward to 50 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds to 200 miles.
There is no change to the forecast track or reasoning through landfall. Intensity wise, Cuba caused Gustav to weaken. However, Gustav is forecast to re-strengthen as it moves over a warm current in the Gulf. By early Monday, Gustav may weaken slightly before landfall. Despite the actual intensity fluctuations, Gustav is expected to be a major hurricane at landfall with winds 110 mph or greater.
State resources deployed to other states to assist with Gustav are provided under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), an interstate mutual aid agreement. Oklahomans are discouraged from self-deploying to the Gulfport regions where evacuations are already or soon will be underway. In most cases, access to the affected areas, requires proper credentials and travel documents. As Oklahoma receives requests for personnel, equipment and supplies, OEM will look to local county and municipal emergency managers to identify the needed resources.
Oklahoma continues to anticipate the arrival of 200 patients from southwest Louisiana hospitals at the Oklahoma Air National Guard Base at Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City. The patients are being evacuated by air transport through the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS). Once in Oklahoma City, the evacuees will be transported to area hospitals by EMSA and other ambulance services. This NDMS evacuation to Oklahoma is being coordinated through the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Medical Emergency Response Center and OEM.
How Can Oklahomans Help?
Monetary donations are best. A number of the disaster relief agencies Oklahomans always depend on in disaster times are already working to assist those affected by Gustav. Oklahomans are urged to give to the disaster relief agency of their choice, to include the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and other faith-based organizations. Go to www.okvoad.org for a list of disaster relief organizations.