NOAA HONORS LOUISIANA COOPERATIVE OBSERVER AS "ENVIRONMENTAL HERO"
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an agency of the Department of Commerce, has selected National Weather Service (NWS) cooperative observer L.A. "Pokey" Delaroderie as one of this year's NOAA Environmental Hero recipients. The award recognizes his heroic river flood monitoring efforts during Tropical Storm Allison in June 2001.
Established in 1995 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Earth Day, the Environmental Hero award is presented annually to individuals and organizations that volunteer their time and energy to help NOAA accomplish its mission of describing, predicting and protecting the nation's environment. NOAA is honoring 27 Environmental Heroes nationwide this year. Eight of them were nominated by NWS field offices.
"NOAA volunteers provide a vital service to this country through their many contributions," said Brig. Gen. Jack Kelly, USAF (ret.), director of the National Weather Service. "I am proud NOAA selected eight NWS nominees to honor as Environmental Heroes."
Tropical Storm Allison came ashore near the Texas/Louisiana border in early June causing torrential rainfall and massive flooding throughout southeast Texas and southern Louisiana. When it was over, the storm had caused a record $5 billion in damage and claimed 23 lives in the two states.
During this catastrophic event, Delaroderie continually monitored the rapidly rising Amite River which runs along his property in southeast Louisiana. Ignoring the increasing danger to himself, he took frequent river readings from his staff gauge providing invaluable information to the NWS Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center (LMRFC) in Slidell, La. and the Weather Forecast Office (WFO) serving the New Orleans/Baton Rouge area.
Even after flood waters forced him and his wife to evacuate their home, Delaroderie secured a boat and managed to provide nearly continuous readings for the NWS. His heroic dedication, conscientious reading of critical flood levels and strong commitment contributed significantly to the NWS mission of saving lives and reducing economic loss in the surrounding community.
Each award recipient or organization receives a certificate recognizing their contributions and a letter of commendation from NOAA Administrator, Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, USN (ret.). Previous award recipients include oceanographers Jean-Michel Cousteau and Sylvia Earle and actor Ted Danson.