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Nicholls takes lead in crisis management, coordination

THIBODAUX – With several tropical systems having already formed this hurricane season, administrators at Nicholls State University are prepared to maintain communication and offer assistance to the greater Bayou Region.

“We are ready, should an emergency arise,” Dr. Stephen T. Hulbert, university president, said. “The university is working closely with surrounding parishes, schools and other entities, including Fletcher Community College, to prepare for a hurricane or other emergency situation. I am immensely proud that Nicholls is in a position to provide assistance.”

Brian Clausen, director of environmental safety and health and chair of the emergency planning committee at Nicholls, said the university’s leadership role is twofold – the establishment of a “PK-16+” communication network and a series of “memorandums of understanding” with area governmental entities and businesses.

PK-16+

In the event the telephone lines are down, Nicholls will provide Web server access to area schools, colleges, businesses and not-for-profits that have joined the PK-16+ program. Members will be able to use the university’s Blackboard communication system to request resources, announce developments, post emergency plans and update the community with news and progress reports.

“This program will allow members to pool their resources to expedite the process of healing and recovery – both to assist and receive assistance,” Clausen said. “It is important for everyone to know the schedules and activities of other entities during an emergency situation. Lines of communication must be maintained to ensure educational and organizational continuity. In this way, the community can get back to normal as soon as possible.”

Memorandums of Understanding

Nicholls administrators convened the emergency planning committee early this year in order to establish and prepare the emergency pre-position team; purchase necessary equipment; and revise, update and redistribute the official emergency plan to university personnel. In the process, Nicholls administrators also expanded the preexisting “memorandums of understanding” with various state entities as well as Entergy. Such memorandums allow personnel and equipment to be staged on the Nicholls campus before, during and after an emergency.

Mike Davis, assistant vice president for administration, said agreements remain in effect with Troop C of the Louisiana State Police, the Terrebonne Consolidated Government, and Entergy. New agreements have been established with the Houma Fire Department, Little Caillou Fire Department and Bourg Fire Department. In addition, Ayo Hall will be provided as a special-needs shelter, at the request of the state of Louisiana.

“Of course, Nicholls stands ready to assist any additional first responders, as needed by the state,” Davis said.

Furthermore, Nicholls administrators have conducted several meetings with sister institutions, including McNeese State University, Northwestern State University and Southeastern Louisiana University, agreeing to provide mutual assistance in the event of an emergency situation, Davis said.

For additional information, access the Nicholls emergency preparedness Web site at http://emergency.nicholls.edu/.

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