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City of Little Rock Public Relations
Office (501) 371-4421

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Contact(s):Scott Carter
501-371-4421

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :
Wednesday, September 03, 2008

CITY OF LITTLE ROCK RESPONSE TO HURRICANE GUSTAV

Focus on Aiding Evacuees and Tending to Damage in Little Rock Caused by Storm’s Remnants

(September 3, 2008 -- Little Rock, AR) The City of Little Rock continues to respond Hurricane Gustav’s effects on Louisiana and Arkansas.

As has been reported in the media, thousands of evacuees relocated to Little Rock and surrounding areas to escape Gustav as it hit the gulf coast.

Over 230 patients were airlifted to Little Rock National Airport from gulf coast region hospitals. MEMS coordinated the transportation to area hospitals. Because of mutual aid agreements and reserve ambulances, MEMS has been able to maintain normal 911 services. MEMS is now starting to plan for the return of the patients to their previous hospitals. According to MEMS Director Jon Swanson, this will be accomplished without a reduction of 911 service availability.

According to the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, over 1,070 hotel rooms were occupied Tuesday night by evacuees. Throughout the day Wednesday, evacuees were checking out of hotel rooms, but the exact amount will not be known until Wednesday morning. Some evacuees were checking out to return home, others were checking out because they ran out of money and were relocating to shelters.

Convention and Visitors Bureau Dan O’Byrne stated that CVB staff had distributed a list of free Little Rock attractions to area hotels and shelters to assist the evacuees in finding things to do while they were here. In addition to the Arkansas Arts Center, MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, Historic Arkansas Museum, and Old State House Museum which are free every day, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library waived admission fees for evacuees.

Because many hotels, shelters, and private residences do not take pets, Little Rock’s Animal Services housed eleven dogs and two cats at the Little Rock Animal Village. By the end of the day Wednesday, all of those had been picked up by their owners as they prepared to return home. Housing and Neighborhood Programs Director Andre Bernard noted that special arrangements were made so that the owners were able to visit their pets throughout the day and into the evening.

Gustav’s effects have not been limited to Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. The wind and rain this week have caused damage and power outages throughout Little Rock.

The City of Little Rock offers the following reminders for citizens in the aftermath of the storms:
1) If a possible gas odor is detected, residents should immediately leave the house and go to a neighbor’s house to call 9-1-1.
2) Do not drive through standing water; there is no way to know how deep it is.
3) Check on neighbors who are elderly or disabled.
4) Stay away from downed power lines. Assume they are “live.”
5) Do not leave lit candles unattended.
6) Use extreme caution when cleaning up debris. Many post-storm injuries are caused by people falling off of roofs or harming themselves with saws or other cutting devices. It is best to leave this to professionals.
7) To schedule storm debris pick up, call 3-1-1.

Fire Department
The Fire Department has returned to its normal mode of operations. They remain on alert for any water rescues of stranded motorists in areas where standing water may remain.

Police Department
The Police Department is maintaining extra squads on patrol until all power is restored throughout the City. Otherwise, police efforts related to the storms are focusing on traffic control.

Public Works Department
There are extra crews working on debris removal and clearing street drainage clogs. These crews will continue their efforts as long as needed.
In addition to normal garbage and yard waste collection, the City will provide additional resources to address debris collection as residents recover from the storm aftermath.
Debris must be placed beside the curb. In order to ensure that the City is aware of the additional debris, residents are requested to turn in a request by calling 3-1-1.

The City’s Solid Waste crews will attempt to pick up as much of the tree material as possible with hand crews during normal yard waste collection. The restriction on length and diameter will be suspended for the next few weeks to help get this material picked up. Material that is extremely large in size or volume may be rescheduled for special pickup other than normal yard waste.

Street Closures
According to the Little Rock Police Department, the following streets are closed as of late Wednesday afternoon:
Closure Due to Flooding – Boyle Park, Kanis Park, and the intersection of 6th and Pepper
Closure Due to Downed Power Lines – Capitol & Martin; Capital & Valmar; Mann & Wilder; and Shackleford & Breckenridge
Closure Due to Tree Debris – 3000 Ludwig, 12900 Sardis, and Valley Club & Pinehurst

Building Codes
If an electric meter box has been torn from a house, an electrical inspection must occur before it can be reattached or a new one activated. Building Codes staff will make storm-related inspections a priority in the coming days. To schedule an inspection, Little Rock citizens should call 311 or 371-4826.


“I am grateful to the Little Rock citizens for their hospitality and desire to help their neighbors,” said Mayor Mark Stodola. “We have been the recipient of kindness in times past, and so we know how much it means to see a smiling face.”

“As always, I am impressed by the high level of cooperation among the various agencies working to aid Little Rock’s citizens,” noted City Manager Bruce T. Moore. “Pulaski County, MEMS, area hospitals and the City of Little Rock’s Police, Fire, Housing and Neighborhood Programs and Public Works Departments all worked together as a cohesive unit to immediately assist in ensuring the health and safety of Gulf Coast evacuees and Little Rock citizens.”

The Mayor concluded, “Obviously, we never want to have these disasters, but I am continually gratified by the way our City departments and partners respond when confronted by these emergencies.”

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