The overall strategy of all Southeast Louisiana Parishes for dealing with a potential catastrophic hurricane or other major emergency, is to evacuate as much of the at-risk population as possible.
Years ago, the State of Louisiana designed what is known as the contraflow plan, a system where major interstates in the State will have lane reversals so all traffic is flowing out of heavily populated areas creating more traffic lanes for evacuations.
You need to familiarize yourself with contraflow prior to an evacuation. Complete contraflow instructions can be found online.
For those residents in Plaquemines Parish, note that the State has established a three-phased system for contraflow.
This phase will concentrate on people who are most vulnerable to the effects of hurricane winds and water. It is directed at offshore workers, persons on coastal islands, persons living in low lying areas, the special medical needs population, and persons aboard boats.
- Begins 50 hours before tropical storm winds are anticipated to strike the Louisiana coast
- Evacuation operations in areas south of the Intracoastal Waterway and those areas outside levee protection that are vulnerable to flooding will be undertaken
This phase will concentrate on all people who are at risk, such as those living outside of levee protection, inside of levee protection when an exceptionally strong storm threatens, in a manufactured home (mobile home, RV, etc.) and those in a low lying or flood prone areas.
- Begins 40 hours before tropical storm winds are anticipated to strike the Louisiana coast
- Evacuation begins in those areas south of the Mississippi River (Westbank), which are protected by levees but still vulnerable to flooding
This is the final and most serious phase of evacuation where authorities put maximum emphasis on encouraging evacuation and limiting entry into the risk area. Designated State Evacuation Routes will be enhanced by turning two outbound lanes into three wherever possible (i.e, Contraflow). When the storm gets close to the risk area, evacuation routes will be closed, and any persons remaining in the area, will be directed to a "Last Resort Refuge."
- Begins 30 hours before tropical storm winds are anticipated to strike the Louisiana coast
- Evacuation begins in areas of the Eastbank of the Mississippi River in the New Orleans metro area that are within the levee protection boundaries but vulnerable to flooding by a slow moving storm
For those in Plaquemines Parish, the contraflow lanes out of New Orleans are as follows:
Contraflow Instructions for I-10 West to Baton Rouge
- All I-10 West entrances through New Orleans, Metairie and Kenner will be used in their normal manner to gain access to I-10 West
- The eastbound and westbound lanes of I-10 from Clearview Parkway in Metairie to I-55 North in LaPlace will be used as westbound lanes
Motorist do have the option of leaving I-10 and going on I-55 North toward Jackson, MS where contraflow lanes are in place to a point just south of Jackson.
If you choose to take I-12 heading to Baton Rouge through Hammond, the interstate will also have contraflow lanes.
Contraflow Instructions for I-10 East to I-59, North to Slidell, Mississippi
- I-10 East traffic from New Orleans will cross the I-10 Twin Spans using the three eastbound lanes
- Contraflow of I-59 will begin at the I-10/I-12/I-59 interchange
- At the I-10/I-12/I-59 interchange, the left and center lanes of eastbound I-10 will be diverted onto southbound I-59. Only the right lane will continue on I-59 North
- The I-10 East traffic will not be allowed to continue on I-10 East or enter I-12 West