Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards toured storm-weary Southwest Louisiana Saturday morning, observing by helicopter damages created by Hurricane Delta in both Lake Charles and Jennings.
“Make no mistake about it, while this storm wasn’t as powerful as Laura it was still a powerful storm,” he said from the tarmac of the Jennings Airport.
Edwards said from what he could see during his tour, there are a number of neighborhoods and businesses with standing water surrounding them.
“Laura was much more destructive in terms of wind damage, but there was more water with this one,” he said. “It was heartbreaking to see all the homes that were already being repaired or had the materials out for things to be repaired and now our people have to start over.”
Edwards said while the damage caused by Delta is isn’t expected to be as bad as what was created by Laura, “it’s a little early to get out and go sight-seeing.”
“There have been people who have been rescued,” he said. “This storm was a little different; there was a lot more standing water this time.”
Edwards said hundreds of thousands remain without power.
“Damage assessments are already under way with the electric companies but the message we’re hearing today is that we don’t have the electric grid problems that we had last time,” Edwards said. “We really believe restoration will take place much faster than it did with Laura.”
He said there were 688,000 power outages reported yesterday after Delta made landfall. That number was down to 560,000 as of Saturday afternoon.
“Only the parish of St. Bernard did not experience any power outages from Delta,” he said.
Edwards said more than 3,000 Louisiana National Guard members have been called to help with recovery efforts. The group is ready to distribute 1.5 million meals and 1.5 million bottled waters, he said.
While 30 deaths have been attributed to Hurricane Laura — mostly due to carbon monoxide poisoning and heat stroke — no deaths have been attributed to Delta.
He said 10,000 residents continue to be housed in Louisiana shelters, with the vast majority being Hurricane Laura evacuees.
“We have tens of thousands of Louisianians today who are hurting,” Edwards said. “We need to lift them up in prayer and by our deeds. I am continued to be inspired by the people of Louisiana and their volunteerism spirit. We know how to be good neighbors and that will make a big difference as we continue to recover.”
Edwards said he continues to be in active discussion with federal partners to bring all possible assistance to the people of Louisiana. He said he is also encouraging people to preregister for a possible new round of DSNAP benefits.
“Also a little bit good news concerning the weather; for the next seven days we’re going to be dry and it should be cooling off by the end of the week,” he said. “That’ll give a chance for people to get home, pick up their yards and repair their roofs.”
He said while his heart breaks for the people who have now gone through two hurricanes in so short a time, “we know our people are resilient and resourceful.”
He also reminded residents they are recovering in a time of COVID-19.
“As inconvenient as it is, we are recovering from these storms now, Laura and Delta, in a COVID environment,” he said. “Continue to engage in the mitigation measures that we know that work and that is wearing a mask, washing your hands and maintaining a distance of six feet from others.”