BATON ROUGE, La. (WVUE) - Gov. John Bel Edwards held a news conference Tuesday, Sept. 8 to update the progress of recovery in southwest Louisiana almost two weeks after Hurricane Laura made landfall.
The governor announced that several parishes have been approved for federal critical care assistance. This will provide $500 to those affected by Laura in Grant, Rapides, Winn, Sabine, and Natchitoches Parishes.
There have been 26 storm-related deaths. 7 deaths are attributed to cleanup efforts. Nine deaths are related to carbon monoxide poisoning from the use of a generator. One person was electrocuted after coming into contact with a power line.
The Louisiana National Guard continues to distribute supplies at 31 points around the state. Thus far, 161,000 tarps have been distributed to property owners and more than 5 million liters of water given out.
Approximately 12,700 people are being sheltered in hotels across the state. The majority of those being in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport.
4,500 Louisiana residents are being sheltered in Texas.
More than 137,000 power outages remain statewide. There has been substantial progress, but Edwards pointed out that continued restoration efforts will be slower.
48 water systems remain non-operational affecting about 15,000 residents. 93 boil advisories remain in place.
D-SNAP benefits have been approved in 16 parishes for those who aren’t already receiving SNAP. Those benefits are expected to begin Sept. 10.
Individuals will need to apply virtually. This does not apply to those already receiving monthly SNAP benefits.
Gov. Edwards also announced $14.8 million has been distributed through the CARES assistance program to help the saltwater fisheries industry related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Click here to apply and to view eligibility requirements.
Tuesday’s press conference was the governor’s first public briefing since before the start of the Labor Day weekend. Both Edwards and top health officials like Dr. Deborah Birx, of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, warned cases could spike after the holiday if Louisiana residents let their guard down.
As of Sept. 8, there were more than 153,000 positive cases in Louisiana.
The current Phase two restrictions expire this Friday, Sept. 11.
Some parish leaders say they are ready to move into phase three even if the rest of the state isn’t.
In Jefferson and St. Tammany Parishes, leaders want the governor to offer regional phase three entries.
St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper sent Gov. Edwards a letter asking him to consider regional implementations of recovery.
In the letter, Cooper says the parish is ready to move forward with a sense of normalcy while balancing the health of the economy.
He believes the parish can maintain safety by keeping the mask mandate in place and social distancing.
Business leaders in Jefferson Parish agree. They say face coverings are here to stay.
Last week, the Jefferson Parish council passed a resolution calling for the governor to get rid of the current statewide ruling and move to a regional basis when it comes to deciding which phase different areas should be in.
The resolution says Jefferson Parish COVID-19 cases are lower, and many businesses in the parish are on the brink of bankruptcy if they are not allowed to open soon.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force moved Louisiana from red to yellow at the end of August.
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