Aug 31, 2021

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards FEMA Hurricane Ida Press Conference Transcript

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards FEMA Hurricane Ida Press Conference Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsLouisiana Governor John Bel Edwards TranscriptsLouisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards FEMA Hurricane Ida Press Conference Transcript

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and FEMA officials held a press conference on August 31, 2021 to provide updates on damage and conditions from Hurricane Ida. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.

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Governor Edwards: (00:00)
Also, we have General Holland who commands the Mississippi Valley Division of the Corps of Engineers. Obviously, I’m joined by the St. John the Baptist Parish President Jacqueline Hotard, but also Sheriff Mike Trek from here.

Governor Edwards: (00:16)
This storm was every bit as advertised and the damage that we have seen here and that they’re dealing with is just catastrophic. And it was not just surge, but you got plenty of surge. It was not just wind, but you got plenty of that. But also some of the heaviest rains that fell anywhere in the state of Louisiana fell on St. John the Baptist Parish. 80% of all the rescues done in the state of Louisiana were done in St. John the Baptist Parish yesterday. A very resilient and hearty people, many of whom have decided not to leave. I expect that that’s going to change over the coming days because they’re going to find out that their homes are not going to be re-powered anytime soon. And they got damaged.

Governor Edwards: (01:03)
And so, we have shelter operations, more than 30 shelters now, across the state of Louisiana, we have the [inaudible 00:01:17] move people and that’s what Gail McGovern and Red Cross is focused on along with us. So we have a lot of work ahead of us and no one is under the illusion [inaudible 00:01:29] much of that presence-

Governor Edwards: (01:58)
… right here in Louisiana, or in St. John the Baptist Parish. We have additional law that will be on the ground to help you, sheriff. State troopers, both from Louisiana, but probably from out of state [inaudible 00:02:10] life and fisheries officers moving [inaudible 00:02:15] as well, just for basic security functions. And so, we’re going to be with you all for the long haul. What I’m trying to make sure people understand is many [inaudible 00:02:25] to a hospital-

Governor Edwards: (02:48)
Please don’t come home before they say it’s time. And the last I’m going to say before I ask the administrator to come up is most deaths… Right now, we have two confirmed deaths across Southeast Louisiana because of the storm. I expect that [inaudible 00:03:04] Charleston. The heat indexes will be 100 degrees.

Governor Edwards: (03:22)
I want to thank all the law enforcement people, all the first responders here have done a tremendous job, but that also means the people of St. John Baptist Parish have done something right too. But now is really the most dangerous time over the next week, a couple of weeks. And so, we’re asking people to be patient. We’re asking people to be careful, and please be good neighbors. Check on that elderly couple who live across the street from you, check on your elderly parents or your grandparents or some are special needs families.

Governor Edwards: (03:51)
And we have 911 operating here. So call 911. So at this point, I’m going to ask the FEMA administrator to come up. She’s going to tell you that the president signed a major disaster declaration that turned on individual assistance for all of Southeast Louisiana, including St. John the Baptist Parish, but we also have 100% for the next 30 days. And all the costs associated with debris removal and emergency protective measures like sheltering and other things that we need to bring to bear in order to stand this parish back up. And we really appreciate your presence and the good news that you’re bringing to us. So if you would come on up here.

Speaker 2: (04:33)
Thank you, governor. Good morning, everybody. On behalf of the president, our thoughts go out to everybody that has been impacted by this devastating storm that went through Louisiana. As you heard, we understand many people are away from their homes and want to get back in their homes, but I strongly encourage everybody, please listen to your local officials. Please listen to when they tell you it’s safe to come back home. We also understand that many of you did stay behind, and you’re now seeing the damages across your neighborhoods and your own personal homes. As the governor mentioned, the president did sign a major disaster declaration, which means that if you do have damages or you are displaced from your home, you may be eligible for assistance from FEMA. So if you haven’t already, you can register. You can go to You can go to our FEMA app, or you can call 1-800-621-FEMA.

Speaker 2: (05:29)
I also understand that many of you don’t have communications right now. We are also going to be bringing in teams that will be walking around your neighborhoods. They will be able to register you as well. And so if you haven’t been registered, or if you have questions about your registration, you can find somebody that’s wearing a FEMA shirt and they’ll be able to help answer your questions or help you get registered if you haven’t already.

Speaker 2: (05:52)
We’ve been embedded here with the state since before the storm made landfall. We’ve have such a great partnership with our state and local officials in Louisiana and the federal family that comes to be part of this response, as part of that disaster declaration, FEMA is just one small piece of that. We have brought in the coast guard. We have brought in the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Defense, Fish and Wildlife, many other federal agencies that are here on the ground that are supporting you.

Speaker 2: (06:19)
We staged a number of resources ahead of the storm. And now we are moving those in to meet the needs and the requests from the local officials to help them address their immediate concerns. I’d like to just also say it’s been a rough 24, 48 hours, and the first responders have been amazing. They work so hard to make sure that they’re keeping their community safe. And many of them at the same time, struggling with their own losses to their own homes. And so just wanted to give a big shout out to the first responders across Louisiana for all the hard work that they’ve done and all the work that they’re going to continue to do over the next days and weeks. And finally, just to repeat what the governor said, checking on your neighbors, checking on your loved ones. So important right now. People are going to need help. And what I have found across this country is just how amazing it is that the communities come together and help each other out. It really goes a long way. Thank you, governor.

Jacqueline Hotard: (07:23)
Good morning. And thank you all for being here this morning. I also want to just offer all of my prayers to our entire community. What we are experiencing right now is one of the greatest disasters that our governor and president, they both have said it, that they have seen. Our community is devastated at this time. And I would like to ask our residents also, as everyone has said, if you can stay where you are right now, please do so. Currently the parish is without power and we’re without water. So where you currently are now, if you’re in a safe place with water and power, that’s probably the best place for you to be. I’d also like to also remind our residents as well, we know that communication is a challenge right now. For about 30 hours, no one was able to communicate with anyone. I want to thank FEMA and everyone who’s here because they recognize the communication challenges that we’re having.

Jacqueline Hotard: (08:15)
Because our residents may not be able to get on You may not be able to call anyone if you’re in your home right now without electricity. And they are going to be having boots on the ground to intake and get with our residents to get them the assistance that they need. American Red Cross is here. I can’t thank you enough. The resources are ramping up now that communication is getting a little bit better, but yesterday there was no communication. And that has really made it difficult for us to reach all of our residents. Can’t thank everyone enough for being here. If you have family that somewhere else, and you can communicate with them about what’s going on on the ground, please do so. We are doing all of our assessments right now for water or utility assessments, damage assessments. And once we have a good assessment on what our infrastructure is really looking like, we’ll be able to give a better assessment on when we even think water can be restored.

Jacqueline Hotard: (09:06)
We have activated all of our pre-position contracts just to remove debris out of roadway because that’s posing a challenge for us to even do a good damage assessment that we can’t get to all of the areas in the parish that do have a damage, but all of that’s been mobilized and activated and we’re working very quickly. This is going to be a marathon and not a sprint, but I’ve been in this community for Hurricane Isaac. And I know that we are a resilient group of people. This is going to be very difficult, worst disaster that we’ve all seen in St. John Parish. And it’s going to take a long time. We’re here to support the residents and I just want to thank everyone and thank the media for being here now, because for a while, we could not reach our residents. So I do appreciate you all coming and thank you. Jacqueline Hotard, St. John the Baptist Parish President. Thank you>

Speaker 4: (09:59)
It’s still morning. Good morning. Thank everyone for coming out today, governor. Thank you for your working relationship as always. You were here for us in the past and you-

Speaker 4: (11:07)

Speaker 4: (11:07)
… let us down again. We’ve been through Hurricane Isaac. We’ve seen this movie before, but here we are. Our residents are very resilient. They do a good job when it’s on recovery. Two things I want to mention.

Speaker 4: (11:18)
… take a picture of them and take a picture of their vehicle and their license plate number. Do not-

Speaker 4: (11:23)

Speaker 4: (12:48)
… let yourself become victim of not only Ida, but that the greedy people out here are going to take advantage of you. If you need [inaudible 00:12:55] call 911. My residents, we’re going to get St. John Parish [inaudible 00:12:59] for you to come home. Just sit tight for a little while longer. Be careful, be safe. We’re going to tell you when to come in and get your stuff and leave. Pay attention to the news reports and the traffic presses. Okay? Well, we’re going to get you back home. Just sit-

Governor Edwards: (13:16)
Yes, sir.

Speaker 5: (13:17)
Governor, what is your assessment of the utilities [inaudible 00:13:19]? We’re being told by Entergy that’s it’s going to be 30 days before [inaudible 00:13:29] power back up. Is that unsatisfactory to you? Is there anything that can be done at state or federal to help speed up that time there?

Governor Edwards: (13:41)
Well, I don’t believe anybody, I know I’m not satisfied with 30 days. The Entergy people aren’t satisfied with 30 days. Nobody who’s out there needing power is satisfied with that, but I am mindful that we just had the strongest hurricane, at least tied for the strongest that the state has ever experienced. And the infrastructure has been damaged. The damage assessment continues. That started yesterday. It actually continues. And then once they know exactly how heavily damaged the infrastructure is, then they’re going to be able to respond, put together a plan. But what I can tell you is we have well over 20,000 linemen, vegetation, crews, and others in the state right now. I did a two-hour phone call with Entergy last evening to make sure that they knew that this was a very high order of priority.

Governor Edwards: (14:30)
And look, we all want air conditioning because that’s how we run our lights and our air conditioners. I’m worried about it because that’s how we run our hospitals too. And our hospitals are full and we have so many other things that are just critically important. And we know that even if you have a generator, typically after so many days, they start to [inaudible 00:14:50]. And so we’re doing everything we can to work with them, to get them to restore electricity as soon as possible, but to prioritize the things that really are the priorities for re-powering. And we’re bringing in redundant generator capacity, and technicians in the meantime, but nobody is satisfied.

Governor Edwards: (15:09)
And quite frankly, I will be surprised, not pleasantly surprised, but unpleasantly surprised if it actually is 30 days before we start to see power being restored. But yeah, but parts of the state from between here and the coast have much more damage. So even in new Orleans and every area’s not going to come back at the same time. And we do ask people to be patient. That’s one of the reasons we need people to stay out. If you’ve already evacuated, or if you-

Speaker 6: (16:04)
[inaudible 00:16:04] throughout the entire region and other parts of the state. I ask that because [inaudible 00:16:15].

Deanne Criswell: (16:16)
Yeah. That’s a great question. We are going to start bringing those teams in. They’re coming in today. They’ll be starting to go out into neighborhoods around Louisiana. I will work with the state to prioritize which neighborhoods are in the most need for those. And they have iPads. They can register people offline. And then when they go back and get cell connection, then it uploads that information and their information. And they’ll get a case number and they’ll get-

Speaker 6: (16:38)
You’re name please.

Deanne Criswell: (16:39)
My name is Deanne Criswell and I’m the FEMA administrator.

Governor Edwards: (16:43)
Okay. Thank you all very much.

Governor Edwards: (16:44)

Governor Edwards: (17:12)
God bless.

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