West Baton Rouge Parish President Riley “Pee Wee” Berthelot has declared this week “Severe Weather Awareness Week” in WBR Parish.
Berthelot said the WBR Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the National Weather Service and FEMA have teamed up, “urging all citizens to prepare for severe weather events and to educate themselves on safety strategies.”
Last Thursday WAFB Chief Meteorologist Jay Grymes attended the WBR Parish council meeting, along with Ken Graham of the National Weather Service, for the announcement of Severe Weather Awareness Week.
“When Ken Graham shows up, that tells you how important it is,” Grymes said.
In October 2011 Graham presented the parish with a certificate declaring them “Storm Ready.”
Grymes said last Thursday “Storm Ready” is an achievement in emergency preparedness. “You’re now a storm ready community with less than half of the nation,” he said.
Graham said what he wants to stress most this week is that tornados can happen year-round, at any time of day or night. He mentioned a tornado in February that struck Houma, La., flipping cars in its path.
“[The weather]’s a roller coaster, so we have to be prepared for these things,” he said.
Grymes said, “We may spend one week talking about preparedness but in south Louisiana it’s a 52-week per year commitment.”
Graham presented WBR Parish with a weather radio on behalf of the National Weather Service, to bring to the schools, he said.
“We had an ethics meeting last week,” Berthelot joked while accepting the radio.
Graham added that he bought it with his own money at Walgreens.
For more information, the West Baton Rouge Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness has a Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/wbrohsep.
The West Baton Rouge Parish council also accepted a bid last Thursday from Splash Zone for four areas of recreational water play in the parish.
The “splash pads,” as they are called, will be stationed at Alexander Park in Brusly, the Erwinville Community Center, Myhand Park in Addis and the Port Allen Community Center, Project Manager Cletus Langlois said.
The splash pads came under budget and will cost approximately $170,000 each, Langlois said.
The council originally budgeted $187,500 for each splash pad last year.
Langlois said all components of the splash pads will be stainless steel and power-coated to withstand the elements. He presented a sketch of one of the splash pads, 2,500 square feet with a non-slip surface.
“We want to try and have them done by the end of April,” he said, with construction beginning on the Brusly and Erwinville sites.
Council member Barry Hugghins voted no on the bid, because he said, “$170,000 for a hose pipe and a sprinkler for the kids to run through is just too much money.”
Council member Naomi Fair also voted no on the measure.
Resident Erin Bennett said, “My first inclination would be to say no to this type of thing…but the kids love them.”
Berthelot compared the cost to neighboring parishes, saying Plaquemine, La. spent over $250,000 on their splash pad.
The measure passed with five council members voting in favor. Council members Ricky Loupe and Gary Spillman were not present at the meeting.
Council member Phil Porto said he thinks former council member Keith Washington will be happy because the splash pads were a project he was vying for five or six years ago.