Gov. John Bel Edwards is requesting that President Trump declare a pre-landfall emergency for the state of Louisiana effective June 5, 2020, due to the threat of Tropical Storm Cristobal.
The National Weather Service (NWS) forecasts that Tropical Storm Cristobal will make landfall in Louisiana by Sunday, June 7, 2020. The Govenor's Office says the impact of torrential rainfall, storm surge, high winds, and potential tornadoes will pose a serious threat to the lives and property of the citizens of Louisiana.
According to the NWS, Tropical Storm Cristobal has a high chance of causing four to six inches of rain across south central Louisiana and higher amounts in local areas. Such rainfall would overwhelm drainage systems, causing significant property damage. Also, a Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for Vermilion, Iberia, and St. Mary parishes. Tropical storm force winds are anticipated in the coastal areas by Sunday morning.
Gov. Edwards said, "We are confident that there will be widespread, heavy rainfall and coastal flooding. I anticipate the need for emergency protective measures, evacuations, and sheltering for the high-risk areas. The length of possible inundation is unknown and will likely require post-flood activities. At this time, due to the dangers presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, sheltering activities will need to include non-congregate settings. We are optimistic President Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will understand why this request is necessary."
In addition to the threat of heavy rainfall, the NWS anticipates a storm surge of 4 to 6 feet from Grand Isle to the mouth of the Pearl River. The NWS does anticipate moderate flooding of the Atchafalaya River due to storm surge.
As of 9:30 a.m. on Friday June 5, 18 parishes have issued parish emergency declarations, 5 parishes are in the process of completing their emergency declarations and more are anticipated over the next 24 to 48 hours.
Although the NWS forecasts primarily address Tropical Storm Cristobal's anticipated effects in South Central Louisiana, the northern part of the state also faces threats due to high river levels that threaten flooding in numerous parishes. Additional rainfall from Tropical Storm Cristobal will exacerbate those already saturated conditions, likely requiring additional flood fighting measures.
In addition to the state and local efforts for storm preparations, Louisiana has expended hundreds of millions of dollars during its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. State agency expenditures as of this date are estimated at $475 million. These large expenditures have hindered our ability to fund additional measures to address subsequent disasters and emergencies.
Because of those factors, Gov. Edwards is specifically requesting:
Public Assistance Category B (Emergency Protective Measures)
Public Assistance Category B, to include pre-approval of non-congregate sheltering, for the following parishes:
Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, Ascension, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, West Baton Rouge, West Feliciana, Assumption, Lafourche, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, Terrebonne, Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin, St, Mary, Vermilion, Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jefferson Davis.
Gov. Edwards says for this emergency, the state and local governments will assume all applicable non-Federal share of costs required by the Stafford Act.
Direct Federal Assistance (DFA)
Gov. Edwards requests direct federal assistance for work and services to save lives and protect property, to include:
• United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) - sandbags, self-contained pumps, damage assessment teams, power generation, technical assistance, mapping, GIS support.
• United States Coast Guard - air transportation assets, technical assistance, search and rescue operations.
• Civil Air Patrol - air assets.
• United States Fish and Wildlife Service - wildlife management assistance within the Atchafalaya basin and technical assistance.
• United States Department of Agriculture - crop damage assessment, livestock assistance, technical assistance, water management, and inundation mapping.
This assistance is requested statewide.
The governor has designated Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) Director Jim Waskom as the Governor's Authorized Representative (GAR) and GOHSEP Deputy Director Casey Tingle as the Alternate GAR.
Governor Edwards' also designated Tingle as the State Coordinating Officer (SCO) for this request. Director Waskom and Mr. Tingle will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and will provide further information and justification on the governor's behalf.
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