Gov. Edwards joins Jefferson Parish and state leaders to discuss Ida recovery

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 1:52 PM CDT
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Jefferson Parish, LA (KPLC) - Gov. John Bel Edwards held a news briefing on Hurricane Ida recovery Tuesday alongside Jefferson Parish and state officials.

Edwards, who was joined by Sen. Bill Cassidy, Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng, and Congressman Steve Scalise, visited Jefferson and Orleans parishes prior to the briefing, assessing damages and meeting with local officials.

Sheng said she is truly heartbroken after having had no idea how devastating the storm was to so many communities until taking a helicopter ride with Scalise, looking over the devastation. She said she had a meeting with all state agencies, and everyone is working very hard to put the pieces back together in communities.

“Right now, we’re a broken community right now,” Sheng said. “Today, we’re a broken community, it won’t always be that way. we don’t have electricity, we don’t have communication, we don’t have gas, our water and sewer systems are very fragile.”

Due to the lack of necessities in the area, Sheng is advising residents not to return to their homes yet.

Gov. Edwards said President Biden accepted his invitation and will be traveling to Louisiana Friday; however, Edwards is unsure of his itinerary at the moment.

Edwards noted that the people of Louisiana are extremely resilient, but at this point in recovery, the state needs all the help it can get.

“We need all the help that we can get: from the federal government, from the non-profit sector, from the faith community, and certainly from us at the state level and working with our local partners as well,” Edwards said.

Edwards added there are certain ways the state has been blessed. He said at the time of the news conference, there were two confirmed fatalities from the storm, and he said the levees held up.

“There are certain ways in which we’ve been very blessed. As I stand before you today, there are two confirmed fatalities,” Edwards said. “Also, we’re blessed because our levees held up. They performed the way they were supposed to.”

Edwards noted the president signed the Major Federal Disaster Declaration he requested. And he noted the president approved individual and public assistance. Edwards said everyone affected by Ida should apply with FEMA for individual assistance.

The governor then touched on what has taken plus thus far in the recovery process. He said power is already being restored in some areas, the US Army Corps of Engineer’s Blue Roof Program is active for select parishes, bridge inspections have begun, LA National Guard has been activated for distribution and state agencies have rescued 636 people and 73 pets.

In terms of COVID-19 updates, Edwards said he is extending the indoor mask mandate through September 29.

Cassidy said the devastation he saw was incredible. He said every building he saw in Lafitte had damage.

“Just the devastation in Lafitte, a small community - every building was affected. You could see the water line at six to eight feet up there,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy also gave a shoutout to Southwest Louisiana.

“To the people in Southwest Louisiana, you are not forgotten,” Cassidy said. “We are aware that the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Relief that you’re hoping for and counting on has not come through.”

Scalise echoed the sentiments of Cassidy, saying he recently spoke with Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter.

Scalise also said he wouldn’t be surprised if Hurricane Ida was upgraded to a Cat 5.

“When you look over some of the reports, I wouldn’t be surprised if they go back and reassess this and upgrade it to a category 5 storm,” Scalise said.

Scalise later noted the expediency of the Blue Room Program being brought up and running. He said it was the fastest time in the history FEMA.

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