Can you imagine working on the Gulf Coast these days? Every time a storm forms, even way out in the Atlantic, you have to start thinking about evacuations, disaster plans, and the like. After Katrina, people's perceptions of hurricanes changed, and communities expect their human service agencies to be prepared.
One agency operating in this new reality is the Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority in Metairie, Louisiana, which described how it was recovering two years after Katrina in our September 2007 issue. Gay LeBlanc, MSW, acting executive director, recently shared with me their experience with Gustav:
JPHSA re-opened for business [Monday] at 8 a.m. Since Katrina, we have implemented new procedures and tightened up others. Although not enjoyable, execution of our emergency plans went well. During Gustav, we posted announcements on our external website and were able to communicate with one another through an internet bulletin board. We do have a few employees who have not been able to return as of yet due to property damage, no electricity, etc.
It looks like Ike is taking his eye off the Louisiana coast but no matter where he lands, behavioral health agencies will certainly be affected.