In preparation for Hurricane Dean’s entry into the Gulf of Mexico, the Louisiana Department of Health activated its Emergency Operations Center Saturday morning with an incident management team to monitor the storm and take action if necessary.


The Department of Health and the Department of Social Services are responsible for opening and staffing Medical Special Needs Shelters. The two agencies are on standby to open these shelters if an evacuation is ordered. These shelters of last resort are intended only to provide shelter for residents with medical needs that cannot be met in a general shelter. Citizens requiring this type of sheltering must be accompanied by a caregiver.

In the event that medical special needs shelters are opened, LDH will first establish telephone numbers for citizens to call before arriving at the shelter. These “triage phone lines” will provide medical advice to evacuees as well as direct them to the location of the proper shelter.

In each parish, the local offices of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness are responsible for identifying persons who live in their parish with special medical conditions and who need transportation assistance. The parish will transport these evacuees to parish pickup points and the state will transport them to state shelters.


In the event of an evacuation order, Louisiana’s nursing homes are responsible for the evacuation of their residents. During the 2006 regular session of the Louisiana Legislature, lawmakers passed into law Act 540. Act 540 mandates each of the state’s nursing homes along the coastal region create an evacuation plan. That evacuation plan must include “contracts or written agreements” with a site to shelter the residents outside the area of risk. The nursing homes must also have “proof of transportation or a contract with a transportation company, verified by a written transportation agreement or contract” to evacuate residents.