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Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
Email: mhernandez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mhernandezwwl

NEW ORLEANS - Avery Gillis said generators have hot items this weekend at Home Depot in Chalmette.

The assistant manager said the state's sales tax holiday for hurricane readiness supplies has been a big draw.

'For those of us that have been through Katrina, we know what that experience is like now, so to be prepared is really, really, really essential,' said Gillis.

Items like batteries, flashlights, two-way radios, and, of course, generators are all exempt from the state's 4 percent sales tax through the 27.

And while residents gear up, so are officials.

'The biggest change from last year is more of the system is complete, so our protection is at a much higher level than it was even at last year this time,' said Tim Doody, of the South East Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East.

The eastern side of the Harvey Canal flood wall has been finished. And for all intents and purposes, officials say, the world's largest pumping station, known as the west closure complex, is complete.

'I think 90 percent of the projects are complete,' said Jefferson Parish President John Young. 'And having said that, it's a process, and to prepare for Category 5 protection we need to put money into restoring our coastline, bays, wetlands and estuaries.'

The Causeway Bridge floodwall likely won't be complete until December, said Young. And the west return wall likely won't be complete until August, the red zone of hurricane season.

And while authorities say the Seabrook surge barrier is capable of being closed, it's not yet finished.

'It's a long-term process but much much better protected than we were at the time Katrina hit,' said Young.

And, authorities say, while we're better protected than ever before, people still need to get ready just in case the worst happens.

The sales tax holiday for hurricane readiness items ends Sunday. Jefferson Parish officials are asking their residents to sign up now for re-entry placards. You can do so at www.Jumpstartjefferson.com.

In Orleans, you can sign up at www.nola.gov or click here.

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