BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards held a media briefing Thursday morning about the state's ongoing response to Hurricane Laura saying that progress is being made but the recovery is a marathon and not a sprint.
Edwards said that he visited the Lake Charles area Wednesday for the third time since the storm hit and was encouraged by the progress being made.
"I can tell you I was very encouraged just by the sheer number of people and resources that were brought to bare," said Edwards. "There is really good work that is being done with the progress that has been made over a seven-day period. But we clearly have a very, very long way to go."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will have a drive thru documentation center established in Lake Charles that will allow storm survivors to have their documents scanned and added into their profile so that they can be returned to them immediately.
The document center will be at the Calcasieu Parish School Board, located at 3310 Broad Street in Lake Charles from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Edwards said that 92,000 individuals have registered for FEMA aid so far with $25 million paid out so far.
Operation Blue Roof is now operational with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers working to set up temporary roofing for homeowners with roof damage from the storm so that they can live at home rather than at a shelter.
Edwards said 2,700 homeowners have now registered and Blue Roofs are expected to start going up this Saturday.
Homeowners can register for Operation Blue Roof at 1-888-766-3258 or www.USACE.Army.mil/BlueRoof.
The Louisiana National Guard has 6,100 guardsman currently activated and have distributed 3.6 million liters of water, 2.4 million MREs, 350,000 bags of ice and 114,000 tarps at 40 points of distribution across 17 parishes. They have also cleared more than 2,000 miles of road way of storm debris.
The governor said that 212,000 customers are still without power across the state, which is down from last week's peak of 615,000.
Edwards said that the progress is getting to the point where it may take longer to restore power for remaining customers because of the sheer amount damage done to the power infrastructure.
He said that customers still without power in North Louisiana could expect their power to be restored before those in Southwest Louisiana because of the the sheer amount of devastation and damage to the distribution lines and transmission lines.
The governor said that 11,954 individuals remain in shelters across the state with the majority of them in non-congregant shelters. He said that several thousand residents remain in shelters in Texas though the state is still working to get an exact number as Texas only counts heads of households in their shelter numbers.
The governor is asking those sheltered in Texas not to come back home to Louisiana yet because they may have to move into a congregate shelter setting in Alexandria.
Those seeking shelter can call 211 or text LASHELTER to 898-211.
Edwards said he was heading to meet with local officials in Vernon, Beauregard and Jeff Davis Parish after the press briefing to assess their needs.
Edwards also warned of the continued weather threat across the state with regard to the heat as the heat index over the last few days has been well over 100 degrees.
Edwards also said that two storm-related deaths had been reported related to the heat, which brings the total to 17 storm-related fatalities.
He also reminded residents to express safety with regard to power generators and make sure they are at least 20 ft away from a home and wait until the generator has cooled down before refueling it.
According to Edwards, the State Fire Marshals office is reporting a house fire caused by someone trying to refuel the generator before it cooled down.
A total of 16 parishes have been approved for individual assistance from FEMA.
The list of parishes now approved from FEMA are Acadia, Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Grant, Jackson, Jeff Davis, Lincoln, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Sabine, Vermilion, Vernon and Winn Parishes.
Those living in these parishes that seek FEMA individual assistance can visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.
The full press briefing can be viewed below:
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