The following is a transcript of an interview with Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome that aired on Sunday, August 29, 2021, on “Face the Nation.”
ED O’KEEFE: We go now to the mayor of Baton Rouge, Sharon Weston Broome. Mayor, thank you for joining us this morning on what I know is a busy time. Give us a sense of how your city is prepared or is preparing for this and what concerns you have as the storm nears.
BATON ROUGE MAYOR SHARON WESTON BROOME: Well, thank you. We have prepared on every level from a city parish point of view. Our community partners and our residents have received word for days now and have started to make preparations in terms of supplies for their families and our food, medicine and fuel. We are asking people right now to take shelter. It is not the time to try to evacuate. We are anticipating the storm will be in our area around 3:00 p.m. today.
ED O’KEEFE: And you have a year that you got a lot of things going on in Baton Rouge. Among other things, you have a lot of universities there, like LSU, Southern University. Are you concerned at all about the student population that maybe from out of state and doesn’t appreciate the power and the importance of getting out of the way of these storms?
MAYOR BROOME: Well, I think our student population has been schooled, if you will, in terms of taking this very seriously, her pain. So I’m confident that they are part of the fabric of our community. And we have gotten the word out to our universities and our colleges here as well. So we’re all working through this together in Baton Rouge. And I believe that our citizens, all of them are taking it very seriously, are remaining vigilant, calm and strong as we work through this.
ED O’KEEFE: And, you know, you’ve got this hurricane and of course, you like city leaders all over the country, are also dealing with the pandemic. How did you have to adjust either of your responses to either of those crises in order to deal with this?
MAYOR BROOME: Yes, absolutely. Yeah. I have said, of course, that we’re in the middle of two emergencies, a pandemic as well as now a hurricane. And so our mayor’s office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness plans for this type of dual emergency, if you will. But right now, we’re opening up one of our pre-storm shelters. And during that pre-storm shelter, we will have isolated areas for those people that test positive for COVID-19.
ED O’KEEFE: Oh, so you’re breaking out an area for them just in case. And that, of course, takes space away from others who may just need a place to go. So it compounds the potential response to this storm. I’m curious–
MAYOR BROOME: Yeah.
ED O’KEEFE: –Mayor, it’s like we said, 16 years since Katrina hit. How has Louisian’s response to hurricanes changed in those 16 years? In other words, if the storm warnings come and people like you tell them to leave or tell them to pack up and get ready? Are they- are they doing anything differently or more vigilantly now after that storm so many years ago?
MAYOR BROOME: I believe they are. You know, not only are we remembering Katrina, but we recently in 2016 had a flood that had a significant impact on our city and parish. And so ever since then, people have been very concerned, very guarded, very vigilant in terms of how we manage and navigate our water here. Listen, water management is a way of life here in south Louisiana, and we take it very seriously. Our city has prepared, using some of our American rescue dollars in advance six weeks ago to start cleaning out drains and- and managing culverts and canals. And so in addition to that, just this week, our team has intensified their efforts. So we take water very seriously and weather events like this very seriously.
ED O’KEEFE: Well, Mayor Sharon Broome, we appreciate you taking the time today. We wish you the best of luck. And I have a feeling we may be talking to you again later in the week.
MAYOR BROOME: Thank you so much.
ED O’KEEFE: All right. We’ll be right back.