President Biden approves emergency declaration for Louisiana amid saltwater crisis
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - President Joe Biden on Wednesday (Sept. 27) granted an emergency declaration for four Louisiana parishes in response to the escalating saltwater intrusion crisis.
The move authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to take the lead in coordinating disaster relief operations.
The approval provides federal financial assistance to reimburse state and local authorities for ongoing response and mitigation measures.
Governor John Bel Edwards requested the assistance for Plaquemines, St. Bernard, Jefferson, and Orleans parishes.
“I’m grateful to the Biden administration for making this request a priority and responding quickly to help the people of South Louisiana,” said Gov. Edwards. “Efforts to mitigate the impact of the saltwater intrusion are currently underway and other projects are being considered based on the projections being received from the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). This 90-day approval of our Emergency Declaration will help our state and local partners with the costs of any mitigation efforts and protective measures. As this event unfolds, we will continue to analyze the emergency efforts and impacts to determine if further requests will be necessary.”
The Army Corps of Engineers continues work raising the existing underwater sill in Alliance by 25 feet and creating a channel to accommodate marine traffic. This heightened sill is expected to slow the advance of the saltwater wedge upriver by approximately two weeks.
Despite these efforts, experts are predicting that the progression of saltwater up the river will persist at its current pace of about one mile per day.
The Army Corps of Engineers told New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board officials on Wednesday that the toe of the saltwater wedge is south of Belle Chasse.
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