Overview of the LSU System
Reacting to Disaster
The LSU System acts as the coordinating authority for all emergency response among System institutions. There is no better example of how the System reacts than the way the System went rapidly into action, serving as the temporary home base for both the University of New Orleans and the LSU Health Sciences Center, following Hurricane Katrina.
Within 24 hours of landfall, LSUHSC-New Orleans and UNO were invited by the President to the System's Office. Leadership teams from both campuses were assured that all assets of the System were available to support their survival and recovery. Most of our operations remained in Baton Rouge for the next year.
Workspace was quickly provided for an emergency command center and 2, 800 lines set up to field calls from faculty, staff, and students as well as family and friends seeking information. Within 24 hours, the number of phones in the command center had increased to 10. System staff helped man phone lines and provide PC's for the command center. Over the next week an additional 40-50 PC's were acquired for HSC-New Orleans personnel.
Additional space was provided throughout the system over the first day or two in personal offices, conference rooms, break rooms, etc., to provide a home base for each of our professional schools as they began to locate and register faculty, staff and students, as well as to undertake academic planning for the resumption of classes.
The System orchestrated meetings with other chancellors, executive directors, deans and department heads throughout the system to locate space for teaching, research, animals, research samples and office space. The result of this intense effort was the resumption of classes in less than one month.
A block of office space was provided at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center for classes and use at a freezer farm for rescued lab samples. Additional classroom and animal space was provided on the Baton Rouge campus and at the LSU Veterinary School. The LSU South Campus, meanwhile, became home to the classroom, office and clinic space of the LSU School of Dentistry. The LSU AgCenter housed the entire HSC administrative staff in a large meeting room at the AgCenter’s headquarters on the Main Campus.
The System sought, identified and allocated housing space for critical faculty and staff in the early days before the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could acquire housing for faculty, staff, students and their families. This temporary housing involved leasing a mothballed Baltic ferry and 110 unit mobile home sites on AgCenter property along River Road near the LSU A&M campus. The LSU System played a leadership role in executing the charter agreement for the cruise ship and a multitude of related challenges that included getting an executive order by the Governor to dock the ship at the Port of Baton Rouge, working through security clearances for access to the ship for faculty, staff and students, working resolving Coast Guard clearance issues; getting the Department of Homeland Security to clear the ship up the Mississippi River to Baton Rouge, engineering and contracting for preparation of surface parking, working through food service arrangements for the residents on the ship, and arranging the engineering and design for the mobile home site, which included the design and acquisition of sewerage treatment, electrical distribution system and roads.
In other storm-related action, the LSU System:
- Contracted with the IBM Disaster Team to assist in developing and submitting the earliest claims for FEMA approval.
- Orchestrated the first meeting with FEMA and served as the initial point of contact to assist all LSU units.
- Notified all federal agencies pertaining to the relocation of LSU research, including "no cost" extensions.
- Alerted all accreditation entities of the emergency.
- Coordinated all media communications on behalf of LSUHSC-New Orleans and the University of New Orleans.
- Synchronized communications with the Governor's Office and other State agencies to secure the authority to take the needed emergency actions.