Congratulations to our 2019 LEPA Award Winners!

Leadership Award

West Feliciana Volunteers For Response and Recovery Foundation

The West Feliciana Volunteers for Response and Recovery Foundation was formed after the August 2016 floods. A group of community-minded volunteers had hastily put together a very successful relief effort immediately after the floods and wanted to extend that effort through the recovery phase of those impacted. This group helped manage relief and recovery by inserting themselves in coordination of needs for impacted families, managed donated goods and services; assisted in linking resources with unmet needs and providing outreach and guidance for flood victims wading through the relief assistance programs provided by FEMA and the state.

They have since organized as a 501c3 and continue to assist the community. In the wake of the August 2016 flooding there was a tremendous need for coordination of relief and recovery efforts carried out by volunteer groups. The WFVRRF came together as a team of dedicated and talented leaders to manage volunteers, donated goods and resources, and VOAD assistance. Their professional management was vital to assist flood victims in everything from mucking out homes to being fed and immunized. The WFVRRF was formed as a result of the ongoing unmet needs of those victims. The organization continues to assist with case management 2.5 years later. In addition, the WFVRRF is now a trusted resource for the parish. Members have received training in sheltering, ICS, CPR and First Aid and have meshed with the parish Citizens Corps.


National Hurricane Center Time of Arrival Graphic Team

The nominees are recognized for developing critical public safety products that contribute directly to making this country a more Weather-Ready Nation, The arrival of sustained tropical storm force winds is a critical decision point in tropical cyclone preparedness and evacuation decision making, as individuals and communities need to have preparatory actions complete before the wind becomes too dangerous to be outside. Historically, emergency managers had inadequate guidance on the arrival of these dangerous winds. Through this team's efforts, emergency managers now have a graphic of wind arrival time. The team nominated for this award assembled a technical group of Federal, contract and university staff to develop new products overcoming the existing gap in public safety guidance. This team coordinated and worked with social scientists for many months on product design to maximize understanding by end users prior to implementing the final version into NWS/NHC operations. This project took years to accomplish.

The team consisted of:

  • Product Oversight and Outreach: Robbie Berg and Dan Brown (NHC Hurricane Specialists)
  • Technical Development: Mark DeMaria (NHC Technology and Science Branch Chief and Andrea
  • Schumacher (Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University)
  • Product implementation and Design: Matt Onderlinde (NHC Technology and Science Branch and Jeri
  • Schwietert-Livingston (Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University)

Dedication Awards

Benjamin Walker

In 2018 the Terrebonne Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Assistant Director, Benjamin Walker was challenged with taking over the Terrebonne Parish Active Shooter program. This program has several different organizations involved, such as:

  • Local Law Enforcement Agencies (LLEA)
  • Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office
  • Houma Police Department
  • Several Area Fire Departments
  • Terrebonne Parish has 1.3 different fire districts
  • Ambulance Services
  • School Board and schools being trained

This program required coordination with these agencies pending on the school's location. As lead Ben coordinated with the various agencies, set the agenda, date/time of the training, and target audience for the training. When the training was completed he compiled the After-Action Report/Review and worked the various action items. Ben was able to take the leadership on this program and accomplished active shooter training at 6 different schools in Terrebonne Parish, because of this other organizations requested this training. This program allowed organizations to look at their response plans and see how they work together. Due to the completion of the Active Shooter training the various first responders, school facility, school board, and citizens of Terrebonne Parish are better prepared in the event of upset situation.


Thomas Long

Thomas Long has been in Emergency Management since he joined the military in 1974. While serving in the Louisiana Army National Guard he was called to state active duty on five different occasions, to include the Pan Am 759 Kenner plane crash of which he received a commendation from the Mayor of the city of Kenner. During his time in the guard, he was awarded the Louisiana Commendation medal, the Army Achievement Medal – 4 times, and the Army Commendation medal. Thomas worked as a U.S. Department of Energy subcontractor for 28 years. He served in numerous capacities on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) project. He was at the Bayou Choctaw facility and was over security and emergency management. While at Bayou Choctaw, he was a member of the Emergency Response Team (ERT) and worked his way up the position of the ERT Chief. This team was trained up to Industrial Fire Fighter, Hazardous Materials Technician, and Confined Space Rescue. He was used as a trainer of the team and taught at Texas A&M in both Industrial FireFighting, Hazardous Materials, and Confined Space Rescue. Thomas received a promotion to the Manager of Emergency Management for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and relocated to the Corporate Headquarters. After 28 years of service he left the SPR and went to work for Terrebonne Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (TOHSEP) as the Hazardous Materials Specialist.


Kimberly Leep

Kimberly Leep is being nominated for the Dedication Award because of her unmatched commitment to the success of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Emergency Preparedness and Louisiana's Emergency Support Function 6 (ESF-6) mission. Kim's current position is the Plans Chief for DCFS Emergency Preparedness supporting evacuation assistance, registration of evacuees, sheltering, and implementation of Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (DSNAP). During the August 2016 floods in East Baton Rouge Parish, she endured the loss of her home and the displacement of her family with no effect on her job performance or work attendance, working tirelessly for 6 weeks in ESF-6 response with sheltering and DSNAP efforts. Kimberly led and coordinated efforts with local and state agencies, GOHSEP, the Louisiana Shelter Task Force; and the American Red Cross in finalizing the updated Louisiana Unified Shelter Plan. Kimberly also led and coordinated efforts with Federal and state agencies to develop and receive approval of a multi-agency Louisiana Repatriation Plan. This effort has promoted Kim as one of the countries subject matter experts on repatriation planning. Other states and major metropolitan area officials routinely reach out to Kim for assistance in repatriation planning.

Valor Awards

Michael Ashcroft

Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Renee Poirrier

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry recognizes Dr. Renee Poirrier, DVM, Director of the Louisiana State Animal Response Team since 2003, as an integral part of the departments all hazard incident management team. Since 2003 she has assisted LDAF as a technical specialist in developing pet and animal all hazards plans and provided resources to support all of the ESF 11responses. Dr. Poirrier has developed a nationally recognized evacuation and sheltering manual and training that is utilized as the states standard for sheltering pets. She has continued to support the state and LDAF by establishing a state veterinarian reserve corp, the first ever in the state. This reserve corp will provide veterinary services during public health emergencies as well as providing medical care to the states urban search and rescue teams and the shelters supporting pets. Dr. Poirrier provides annual pet evacuation sheltering and safe pet handling to the states responders: National Guard, US Coast Guard, Army Reserve Corp, local communities, fire departments and animal controls across the state to better prepare the state for disasters involving animals. Under her direction LSART donated the state's first mobile disaster pet shelter, providing a resource to support local sheltering. Dr. Poirrier supports LDAF ESF 11and the state during every phase of all hazard emergency responses.

Under the direction of Dr. Renee Poirrier, the skeleton structure of Louisiana State Animal Response Team was just coming into place when Hurricane Katrina put it to the test.

Dr. Renee Poirrier along with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture managed Rescue Shelters, Evacuation Shelters, oversaw credentialed rescue operations and continued to work on recovery in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Since Katrina, Dr. Poirrier in her capacity as LSART director continues to be an integral part of the ESF 11 support for the evacuation, and sheltering of household pets during disasters and a resource to livestock issues.

She continues to support every level of government, by developing and providing no cost training, resources, subject matter experts and technical support necessary to successfully support the care and welfare of people with pets during emergencies. Dr. Poirrer support is not limited to weather related events, but extends to all hazards such as writing protocols and acting as a technical advisory to ESF 11for FAD and radiological events. Under her direction, the first state Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps was formed, filling a gap in the states animal and public health response. She also provides vital support to the LDAF all hazard incide management team. Dr Poirrier is the Co- Chair of The NASAAEP Evacuation and Transportation Best Practices working group and serves as the Chair of the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association's Emergency Management and Disaster Preparedness committee.


Thomas Thiebaud

Tommy has been an instrumental member in the Emergency Management profession for so many years. His experience has been greatly influential not only in Washington Parish but in Region 9 as well as the state of Louisiana. Tommy served as the Director of Emergency Preparedness from 1994 to 2006 when he was appointed as the paid full time Director through many parish, state and federal declarations with shelter openings The responsibility and labor it takes to do the job as Director is taxing and to do it as a volunteer speaks volumes to the servant character of Tommy. Tommy came to Tangipahoa Parish when I was appointed in January of 2006 and spent an entire week going over the specifics of the job and set me on a path of success. Tommy served as the Director of Emergency Preparedness from 1994 to 2006 when he was appointed as the paid full time Director through many parish, state and federal declarations with shelter openings. The responsibility and labor it takes to do the job as Director is taxing and to do it as a volunteer speaks volumes to the servant character of Tommy. Tommy came to Tangipahoa Parish when I was appointed in January of 2006 and spent an entire week going over the specifics of the job and set me on a path of success. Tommy has also served as a Scoutmaster from 1990-Present.

2019 LEPA President's Award

Sonya Wiley-Gremillion