Louisiana residents may find out as soon as Wednesday whether the state will move into Phase 3 of reopening, as the southwest region of the state works to recover from Hurricane Laura.
Gov. John Bel Edwards said at a Tuesday news conference that the decision will be made after a gating criteria meeting is held and consultation with the White House Coronavirus Task Force takes place.
As far as the devastating storm that struck Southwest Louisiana head on nearly two weeks ago, Edwards reported that residents in the 11 parishes affected by Hurricane Laura can register at disasterassistance.gov and fill out form that will determine whether or not you qualify for a one-time payment of $500.
The grim news is there have been 26 storm-related deaths in the state. Seven have been related to storm clean-up, including people falling out of trees and being hit by branches. Nine of the deaths have been attributed to misuse of generators — leading to carbon monoxide poisoning. Edwards reminded residents to locate generators at least 20 feet from a structure and keep it away from vents, open doors and windows.
The number of accounts without electricity has decreased from its peak of 615,000 after the storm hit to 137,921 currently. The remaining outages are primarily in Calcasieu and Cameron parishes and restoration will likely be slower going because of the severe damage to infrastructure.
There are currently 12,730 displaced residents being housed primarily in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport while the cleanup in the Lake Area continues. Anyone displaced by the storm may text lashelter to 898-211, but Edwards noted the only available housing in the state will likely be a congregant setting.
He urges those with a place to stay in another state to remain there if they can’t return to their homes. “It’s important that Louisiana’s evacuees in Texas continue to accept those offers for rooms, because we are just about at capacity,” he
For information on registering for Disaster SNAP benefits, text ladsnap to 898-211. Those already receiving SNAP don’t need to register. Also, parents of students who received free or reduced lunches
but didn’t apply for Pandemic EBT benefits during the last open period may do so through Sept. 29 at louisianabelieves.org.
The Louisiana National Guard has activated more than 5,600 guardsmen to help residents affected by Hurricane Laura. They’ve distributed more than 5 million liters of water, 4.1 million MREs, 672,000 bags of ice and 161,000 tarps. They are stationed at 31 sites across eight parishes.
Edwards said there were 250 COVID-19 cases reported Tuesday and 13 deaths. He said the number of tests administered in the past 24 hours was 4,125. Both case and test numbers are lower due to the Labor Day weekend and Hurricane Laura.
Edwards said he will be meeting with a task force soon to develop a plan to locate safe structures for polling locations in hurricane-affected areas ahead of the November 3 election.