September 1, 2008
Posted: 11:53 AM ET
In East Baton Rouge parish, dozens of emergency operations personnel are hunched over their computers, looking at weather maps, power grids, and work schedules. More police are on the streets because all officers are now working 12 hour shifts through Gustav's rage.
East Baton Rouge parish officials wait out the worst blast of Gustav. Source: CNN
Power is starting to go out across this parish, as the number of outages in Louisiana has climbed past 368,000.
Once the winds hit a sustained 30 miles per hour, power crews and some emergency responders will hunker down until the storm passes.
"I'm never confident, I'm cautious," said Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden. He also wears the hat of president of East Baton Rouge parish.
Holden said Hurricane Katrina taught a lot of lessons, among them, urging citizens to take on a bigger dose of personal responsibility.
"We are stressing an ‘adopt a buddy' system, especially for folks who have elderly neighbors," said Holden. "We want them to check on them on a regular basis, to make sure they have food and medicine and make sure they are safe," he said.
Unlike the New Orleans area, this parish did not have any mandatory evacuations. But depending on the amount of flooding here, emergency personnel are gearing up for rescues after the storm passes.
The Baton Rouge Emergency Operations Center is doing double duty. Along with its own fire, police, public works, animal control and other government departments, this very secure facility is also hosting some officials from nearby Jefferson parish, expected to get the full brunt of Gustav.
While first responders are on duty within Jefferson parish, other departments, such as personnel, legal, and environmental services are sharing space with their Baton Rouge counterparts.
"We're just behind the scenes here, trying to keep the government flowing," said Louis Gruntz.
-Marsha Walton, Producer, CNN Science & Technology
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