President Joe Biden has approved a federal emergency declaration for Louisiana ahead of now-Hurricane Nicholas. He has ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local efforts due to emergency conditions resulting from Nicholas beginning on September 12 and continuing.
The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in all 64 Louisiana parishes.
Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance and reimbursement for mass care including evacuation and shelter support under the Public Assistance program will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding.
On Monday, Gov. John Bel Edwards requested a pre-landfall Federal Declaration of Emergency in a letter to President Joseph R. Biden in advance of Nicholas, which is forecast to bring heavy rainfall and potentially damaging flash flooding to Louisiana this week.
On Sunday, Gov. Edwards declared a state of emergency for Nicholas, allowing the state to begin its preparations and to assist local governments as they respond. A pre-landfall federal disaster declaration would allow Louisiana to mobilize federal resources the state already has in place as well as to request additional resources if needed.
Louisiana continues to recover from Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Ida, with many homes and businesses still damaged from these events. Heavy rainfall could complicate current storm recovery.
“Nicholas will likely be weakening into a depression as its center slowly moves into Louisiana early Wednesday morning and will exit into Southern Mississippi by Thursday morning. Life-threatening rainfall is our primary concern Tuesday through Thursday, with between six and 10 inches likely across Southwest and South Louisiana with locally higher amounts possible, especially given the slow storm motion. Because of the heavy rainfall this storm will bring, flash flooding will be the greatest threat of this system. It also has the potential to cause river flooding in Southwest and Southeast Louisiana. The ongoing storm recovery will be a compounding threat because homes are already damaged, people are already displaced and storm debris from Ida could be blocking drainage systems, causing rainwater to accumulate more quickly than normal, which will potentially enhance the flash flooding threat,” Gov. Edwards said. “I hope that no one dismisses this threat just because Nicholas is not expected to become a hurricane. I’ll remind everyone that Ida caused significant problems all the way into the Northeast due to flash flooding and tornadoes.”