AgCenter resources available for hurricane preparedness

Olivia McClure  |  5/19/2016 9:24:45 PM

(05/19/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – With hurricane season set to begin soon, it’s a good idea for Louisiana residents to make preparations for possible storm damage and recovery.

The LSU AgCenter has a number of resources, including fact sheets, guides and flood maps, available to help people get ready for hurricane season, which starts on June 1.

People can find out if they live in an area at risk for flood and wind damage by using the AgCenter’s Flood Maps Portal, which displays current and proposed National Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), which are the basis of the National Flood Insurance Program, said Pat Skinner, AgCenter disaster recovery and mitigation specialist.

The maps include the wind speed criteria for building in south Louisiana to prevent wind damage. Flood and wind risks are incorporated into the state’s building codes, Skinner said.

Users can find their property by searching for their address or for map coordinates or by viewing aerial photos, Skinner said. They can see if their home is in a flood hazard area and what wind speeds they are typically exposed to.

“The maps not only help raise awareness of storm risks, but can also be useful to people who want to build new homes that are resistant to hurricanes,” she said.

A link to the Flood Maps Portal is on LSUAgCenter.com under the “Services” tab.

The AgCenter website also includes information about preparing for and recovering from storm damage to homes, crops, livestock and people’s health.

Several publications — like the AgCenter’s comprehensive Storm Recovery Guide and fact sheets on stocking an emergency food supply and removing mold after flooding — are available online at www.lsuagcenter.com/disasterinfo or by contacting your parish extension office.

Visitors to the LSU AgCenter’s LaHouse Resource Center can see exhibits on ways to make their houses resistant to flooding and storm winds. Among LaHouse’s features are hurricane-resistant roofing materials, windows, doors, shutters, screens and panels; hurricane hardware connectors; flood-hardy floors and walls; and a low-cost closet storm shelter, said Claudette Reichel, AgCenter extension housing specialist.

“Because 95 percent of home insurance claims after storms include roof damage, that’s the most important pre-storm home improvement,” Reichel said. A video on how to reinforce existing roofs and how to make sure new roofs are hurricane hardy is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOzoaqhWQBg.

LaHouse, located across from Alex Box Stadium on Gourrier Avenue in Baton Rouge, is open for self-guided tours Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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Kathleen Autilio, a former LSU graduate assistant, demonstrates use of a plastic covering to shield windows from hurricane wind damage, which is one of many hurricane-resistant features at the LSU AgCenter LaHouse Resource Center in Baton Rouge. Photo by Linda Foster Benedict

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