U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy provided us with an update on federal plans for this hurricane's recovery - and future recoveries - but the thing he wants most for you to hear today is simple: be careful with those generators.
"We lost more people after Hurricane Laura to carbon monoxide poisoning than we did to wind and flooding," he said. "Don't bring that thing in the house. Keep it outside, and don't keep it under a window. If you're afraid someone's going to steal it, chain it to a tree. But don't survive this storm to be taken down by your generator."
Nine people died from carbon monoxide poisoning related to generators after Laura. For safety tips, including a video, click here.
Cassidy said there are many assets pre-positioned, ready to move in after the storm passes. He said shelters are open for folks who need them, and vaccinations will be available there. He said you won't be required to get one, but if you just haven't had the chance you will have it at the shelters.
He said it's too early to know how bad the damage is, but it's clear that the Bayou Lafourche area will be "terribly impacted," he said. Grand Isle was hit hard as well, he said.
Cassidy said he's still working to help with the recovery from last year's hurricanes, Laura and Delta.
"We're still advocating for southwest Louisiana for that CDBG money, but I think we have a plan going forward," Cassidy said of ongoing efforts to secure block grant funding for Calcasieu Parish.
Cassidy said he's received direct contact from the Homeland Security and FEMA chiefs, as well as Cedric Richmond, a former New Orleans congressman who is a member of the Biden administration. They've all offered to help facilitate aid and cut through red tape if needed, he said.
"I think this really exposes what we need, not for this hurricane season, but for the next hurricane season," Cassidy said. "We've been working really hard to pass hard infrastructure bill."
That bill, which is scheduled for house consideration in September, includes funding for flood mitigation, hardening of the grid, expansion of storm drainage systems and sewer systems, and coastal restoration. All of those things could help Louisiana recover more quickly from future hurricanes, he says.
Coastlines help buffer storms, and Louisiana has lost a lot of coastline, he says.
"That's why restoration money is so important," Cassidy says.
Improving infrastructure costs money up front, but continuing to patch up old systems costs money, too, he says.
"Every time I see a toppled power line, and hear that 100,000 people have lost power, I think we can do this better," he says. "And we can do this better, but it's going to take money."