3-year study of La. fuel supplies underway

Meteorological DisastersNatural ResourcesHurricanes and Tropical StormsNatural Resource IndustryEnergy ResourcesAdvanced Technologies IncorporatedHurricane Gustav (2008)

The National Incident Management Systemsand Advanced Technologies Institute has begun a three-year projectto review Louisiana's supply and demand for fuel, particularly whenit comes to disaster recovery.

The institute, which is housed at the University of Louisiana atLafayette, is developing a public-private communication on theissue with the help of more than $600,000 in federal stimulus moneypassed through the state Department of Natural Resources.

The need for such partnerships became evident during HurricaneGustav in 2008, said Ramesh Kolluru, executive director of theinstitute, also known as NIMSAT.

Kolluru said two days before the hurricane made landfall, NIMSATgot a call from Wal-Mart, which is one of its partners. Companyofficials said the state would not have enough summer fuel blend tohandle an evacuation of the entire coastal region.

Working with a number of state, federal and private partners,winter-fuel blend was allowed to be distributed and the evacuationmoved forward.

"That spoke to us very clearly that there needs to be a publicand private endeavor," said Kolluru.

NIMSAT also will look at the overall energy profile of the stateand present a better look at the consequences if certain fuelsupply lines go down during a disaster such as a hurricane.

NIMSAT is currently working on a project that's expected tobenefit the Department of Natural Resource, the agency in charge ofmanaging fuel to help people during disasters.

Louis Buatt, assistant secretary of DNR's Office of CoastalManagement, said a long-term goal of DNR is to develop a systemwhere fuel tank sensors can also share information with the stateso that real-time fuel availability can be measured.

During a hurricane evacuation, real-time data from trafficcameras to road sensors will be added into a model so that if thereis a detour along one route, emergency managers can see thattraffic is being rerouted and plan for fuel accordingly, said RajuGottumukkala, software development manager with NIMSAT.

"We're trying to take all these factors into account andproduce a simple model that says you need this much fuel at thistime on this route," Gottumukkala said.

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