tv Louisiana Gov. Edwards Holds Briefing on Hurricane Ida CSPAN August 29, 2021 5:15pm-5:53pm EDT
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announcer: louisiana governor john bel edwards gave an update on hurricane ida and talked about recovery efforts and precautions the state is taking to treat covid-19 patients. ida. gov. edwards: we are just getting started. so please listen carefully. gov. edwards: we are just getting started. so please listen carefully. conditions are changing rapidly and we have a dangerous situation on our hands with hurricane ida. gh the
state. as most of you are probably aware by now, a couple hours ago , hurricane ida made landfall officially as a category four hurricane with sustained winds of 150 miles per hour. as predicted by the national weather service, this is one of the strongest storms to make landfall here in modern times. and as had been projected, ida rapidly intensified right up until landfall. the fact of the matter is an extremely strong storm, category four, category 5, it does not make much difference. by now, if you are in ida's path
and you have not begun to feel severe weather, we can just about absolutely assure you that you soon well. if you are sheltering in place, please make sure that you are in the most secure place possible in your home, some interior space, and please make it your business to stay there until the danger passes. because of the possibility of severe winds damaging your home, it is a good idea to have a mattress nearby that you can use to put over yourself and other family members to protect you from any falling debris. we urge you not to be tempted to go outside, to take a look and start sightseeing. and for goodness sake, don't drive around right now. it is not worth it.
the same goes by for the immediate aftermath of the storm, after it has passed by. it really downed power lines, -- there will be downed power lines, standing debris, other dangers, and we cannot tell you yet how soon it will be before first responders are going to be able to respond to calls for assistance, so please don't go out. the extent to which individuals decide to get out and about will inhibit the flow of first responders and search-and-rescue assets, high water vehicles and so forth. so please be patient. once the storm has passed, you need to prepare to shelter-in-place for the first 72 hours. we have every possible resource ready to go to help you, we will get there sooner than 72 hours if at all possible to rescue people across the state of louisiana.
but this is the window of time that it may take in order to get first responders to you, depending upon conditions. you should know that the entirety of the louisiana national guard has been activated and more than 4900 guardsmen are out in support of current operations. just on the search and rescue assets of the national guard, they are staged across 14 parishes, they have 95 high water vehicles, 73 boats, and 34 helicopters ready to assist citizens of the louisiana. there are 169 wildlife and fisheries agents with trucks and boats in the same number in order to do search-and-rescue, and the most robot search and rescue effort that we have consists of more than 900 individuals making up 21 teams that are represented by 16 different states, and the
numbers i just gave you include the louisiana state fire marshal's office and their boats. the department of transportation has assembled 164 coaches and 20 paratransit vehicles, 185 coaches will be available by tomorrow morning. the department of corrections produce more than 34,000 sandbags for communities across south louisiana. they have also completed the evacuation of 2500 inmates from seven local jails, those being arcadia, orleans, documents, st. mary, say bernard, vermilion, and terrible parishes. -- jeroboam parishes. earlier today, 459 gaetz out of 692 are closed -- gates out of
692 are closed. all of our hurricane protection systems have been fully -- i'm sorry -- have been completely closed and all structures are fully operational at this time. as late as this morning, additional protection measures were being undertaken by 11 districts such as the south district, they completed sandbagging operations to address areas ahead of the storm. based on the hurricane track and the wind, rain, and surge forecast, the remainder of the hurricane, the cpra is anticipating some overtopping of the southeast portions to build another levee system, nonfederal back levees around middle grove and a lines and clackum of parish, and nonfederal levees in lower st. bernard parish as well.
overtopping is concerning, but i want to make sure that everybody understands overtopping and levee failure are not the same. a levee failure can be more catastrophic, so they are not the same thing. we are going to continue to monitor this flood protection system. i can tell you, we do not anticipate any overtopping of the mississippi river levees or overtopping of the levees in the hurricane risk reduction system around the greater new orleans area. you have seen the reports and up until a short while ago, i was able to look at live video feeds, there are significant storm surge impacts around grand isle. cpra has three states pumped throughout south louisiana and will provide assets to coastal parishes in need of de-watering
as soon as it is safe to do so. this is a very fluid situation that is rapidly changing and that is why everyone needs to stay abreast by listening to news and following the guidance from her local officials. -- your local officials. no one in southeast louisiana should be out on the roads. but if travel becomes absolutely necessary after the storm, please proceed with extreme caution. there will be hazards out there that you may experience before any law-enforcement or anybody else may be able to get to first and warn you about it. this is especially true of debris, downed power lines, and standing water. please check 511 four road closures -- for road closures
and do not drive through standing water. that is how we lose a lot a people after storms. many parishes are announcing curfews as we speak. our louisianans should follow the directives from local leaders which are designed to keep us safe. and the conditions vary by parish and they have different considerations in mind, so please honor these curfews and avoid needless risk to your own safety and that of your family and keep streets clear for emergency responders. if you have evacuated, don't be tempted tomorrow to return before you know it is ok for you to do so. please contact your office of emergency preparedness or monitor any announcements that they have as to whether it is the right time for you to return. the last count i had before
coming over here, 1542 individuals being sheltered across the state. that is in at least 23 different shelters, the vast majority of those are operated by parishes. we expect this number to increase throughout the day and potentially in the days to come, as people discover that their homes are no longer habitable. for the latest shelter information, text lashelter to 889 -- 898-211, or you can call 211. heed the guidance of local officials, they have them both up-to-date shelter information for a specific area for parish. if you lose electricity and you decide to use a generator, it is imperative that you follow the instructions from the manufacturer. make sure that generator is well
away from your home in a well ventilated area. it should not be inside, it should not be in a garage or call space -- or crawlspace, under a window or event. on occasion, you will need to refuel the generator. please make sure you allow it to cool off for 20 minutes before doing so. in closing, before i take questions, there is no doubt that the coming days and weeks are going to be extremely difficult for our state, and many people are going to be tested in ways that we can only imagine today. but i can also tell you that as a state, we have never been more prepared. all of the models we have seen from the army corps of engineers and from our own cpra show that the hurricane storm damage risk reduction system will hold and perform as intended. will it be tested? yes.
but it was built for this moment. i have a tremendous amount of confidence in the team that we have assembled, all of the local officials and first responders, and our federal partners, and by the way, i want to thank you fema regional administrator for coming out of texas to embed with us here. a short while ago, i had a call with the administrator of fema in washington and she is very closely watching what is happening here, coordinating with us, and already has various things and route -- en route, things like generators and so forth. i have a tremendous amount of confidence in our team, all of the state and local officials and our federal partners. i also have confidence in the people of louisiana. they always continue to inspire me with their goodness and decency and generosity and i know that they are going to do
everything they can to protect themselves and their families and their neighbors, especially those who may have special needs, maybe their elderly. please make sure that you check on them and stay safe. i know it may not seem this way right now for many people across our state, but there is always light after darkness and i can assure you, we are going to get through this and i invite everyone to offer a prayer for our state, for the people of our state, that we get through this as soon as possible and in the best possible shape with the least loss-of-life. property is replaceable. lives are not. that is obviously our first order of priority. i am going to stop there and take a few questions. please feel free to direct your questions to any of the people that we have assembled here, and
depending what you asked me, i may ask them to come up and answer the question anyway. yes? >> [inaudible] gov. edwards: yeah. it is weather dependent, and frankly, before the weather gets good enough for us to respond, it is going to be dark. what i can tell you, the expectation is that we will be ready at first light tomorrow morning to go out to those areas that we know are ready, have received the most damaging impacts from the storm, and storm surge. you mentioned grand isle. i can tell you, the video that i have seen, the reports i have received are just tremendous amounts of storm surge and wind damage. the good news is -- i hesitate to give you a figure but something like 98% of grand isle evacuated.
the people who are they are, i believe, stayed back in structures that are specifically designed and built to withstand these types of forces. but i have no doubt we are going to see extreme devastation, grand isle and elsewhere. but we will likely be sometime after first light tomorrow morning, before we can get up in the air and get vehicles down there. of course, you have to travel la-1. la-1 was not in good shape earlier. we will be working that as quickly as we can and in all likelihood, traveling to grand isle and elsewhere in that vicinity with a helicopter. >> [inaudible] gov. edwards: ok, i can tell you know tier one hospitals have
been evacuated. tier one hospital is what we commonly think of as a hospital. by definition, we have summary have hospitals, we have some behavioral health hospitals, these are typically smaller. the patients' needs are not as acute. we have evacuated four such hospitals. i will tell you, we have evacuated 22 nursing homes, 18 assisted living facilities, and 61 intermediate care facilities. no hospitals have been evacuated , tier one hospitals, because there is nowhere to bring those individuals. they are in a hospital because they need that setting and we don't have the capacity elsewhere. i mentioned yesterday that over the previous 11 days or so, we have been able to achieve a 20% reduction in our covid inpatient census across the state. the good news is almost all of that happened in southeast
louisiana. but there are still 2450 covid patients and our hospitals across the state in addition to the other patients that remain and our hospitals, and that is a much higher number than we ever experienced in the first three surges. it is still a daunting situation , and frankly, we are concerned, as we have been for a long time, about staffing. these storms have an impact on staffing too, in terms of do they have to evacuate with their family for some reason, does their home remain habitable so they can live at home and go to work? we have a lot of work to do, but we will have no higher priority than to make sure that our hospitals can remain in operation and functional, and that is going to be a challenge because we expect widespread power outage for some time, but we know that they have generators. we know that they have stocked
up on fuel and water and food and on pharmaceuticals. things like oxygen and so forth. but frankly, we know that the longer the power stays out, the more challenging this is going to be in the more devastation in an area, the harder it is going to be to have the staffing that they need. one of the challenges we are having is we had a staff coming in from out of state yesterday pursuant to contracts that we have executed, and the staff was not able to get in because they did not have any place to stay, there was not a hotel room open anywhere. that was a challenge. i say those things just to point out that challenges are going to manifest in ways that we cannot even imagine now. but we have a great team here and across the state locally and we are going to do everything that we can to prepare for every
contingency that we can come up with right now. but this is going to be a challenging situation. yes, ma'am? >> [inaudible] gov. edwards: i'm sorry, the what went down? >> [inaudible] gov. edwards: we have not received any word that any of the hospitals are having challenges at the moment. i can tell you, i had a conversation with many of the ceos of the largest hospitals. they felt they were more prepared than they probably have ever been for a hurricane, but that does not mean that they won't have significant challenges. as i stand here before you, i have not heard that there is any situation with respect to those hospitals because of any pumps
or power issues. >> [inaudible] gov. edwards: no, they were just covid-19 surge staff that we had contracted with to come down. we are still going to get them, but the vendor had to turn around and send them home and they are going to come down a little later. that just adds to the challenges. yes, sir? >> [inaudible] gov. edwards: it is a little too early to know that. the areas that needed to evacuate the most wear those closest to the coast -- were those closest to the coast and those in protection systems that were not built to the same standard. we believe that the vast majority of those individuals who chose to evacuate, starting
on friday after launch, but principally yesterday. if you were able to see the interstates and highway system and the number of people that were evacuating, it was well after midnight before that cleared. we believe that the vast majority of people did decide to evacuate when they were told to do so, even because of a voluntary or mandatory evacuation order. but i am under no illusion that everybody did that. i fully expect that starting tonight, maybe now, but starting tonight for sure and tomorrow morning, we will be getting calls from individuals who need to be rescued because they did not evacuate. that is why we have robust search and personnel on hand. yes, sir? >> [inaudible]
gov. edwards: ok, so, one of the reasons -- the principal reason we have 185 coach buses available by tomorrow, the vast majority of them are on hand now , is so that we can move people as needed. when individuals -- this is not just true for new orleans, but anywhere in the louisiana -- if they cannot stay at home and they don't have a place where they can go with a neighbor or relative or friend or whatever, they are going to need transportation, perhaps, in order to get to a place where they can stay. it could be a shelter, as you mentioned. that is the will of these buses -- role of these buses. we are coordinating with all of our offices of emergency preparedness, that includes orleans parish, to do that.
we have a sophisticated way of doing it. you figure out which areas, either because of standing water or a lot of destruction because of the wind and so forth, need to be evacuated, and you get a feel for that when you start the search and rescue operations, and you those people to what we call a lily pad and you can do that from the high water vehicles or from the boats and so forth. from there, you move them by bus and you are going to move them -- we cannot identify those places today. we have them set up and organized, but where you go to depends on where you are moving from. we have these buses available to do that. with respect to covid-19, it presents special challenges at our shelters. i have mentioned this before. you don't want to conduct sheltering in large, open rooms
anymore than is absolutely necessary because of the transmission of covid. this is especially true now because 100% of the cases of covid in the louisiana our attributive bill to the delta variant, which is highly transmissible. -- are attributable to the delta variant, which is highly transmissible. we will do more at that shelters in terms of cleaning, mask usage is subject to the statewide mask mandate, and it will be strip reinforced. we are going to have more distance between family groups. the challenge is that greatly reduces the capacity in your shelters. then we will move to non-congregant sheltering just as quickly as we are able to do so, principally when we are talking about hotels. that is not as easy as it was -- and it was never easy before -- because hotels have more people in them today, but right now, we
have a lot of individuals who have gone to hotels first, and hopefully they are going to have homes that they can go home to tomorrow, and if they don't, we are going to start sheltering them and those who have to be moved out of their homes, we will start sheltering them as well. we will use congregant sheltering at first, but only to the degree necessary and we will transition to non-cumber get sheltering as we are able to do so. -- non-congregant sheltering as we are able to do so. yes, sir? >> [inaudible] gov. edwards: well, because you have dangerous conditions out there for first responders. you cannot operate these vessels , these boats, for example, in hurricane conditions. you cannot operate these high water vehicles in hurricane conditions.
it does not help anyone to dispatch first responders on a call if you are actually going to call the first responder to be in a bad situation in terms of either getting hurt or killed were just being stuck where they have to either ride it out or resend somebody else. this is why we tell people, you have to be prepared for the first 72 hours on your own. i hope and pray, and we are going to work hard to make sure nobody has to stay in their home for 72 hours after they need rescuing, but everyone should be prepared to do that because we cannot tell you when the conditions are going to be favorable enough for us to be able to get out, how many people are ahead of you on that list, and so forth. so please do everything you can to stay safe, follow the
instructions i have been talking about. you can look at the weather channel and local news and everybody is putting out the same information. we need people to do that and we are going to work as hard as we can to rescue those individuals starting tomorrow. but nobody should be expecting that tonight, a first responder is going to be able to answer a call for help. yes, ma'am? >> [inaudible] gov. edwards: yeah. i don't believe we have contract for hotels yet they would we have been talking hotels -- hotels yet. we have been talking hotels, we know which hotels are interested in entering a contractual relationship with the state.
we have been doing that all over the state. as far as shelters, the total capacity of the 23 shelters that are open is 10,322. i think there are only 1400 people at shelters right now. there is a good way to go with the current capacity but the capacity reflect the diminished capacity because of the dissenting requirements of covid. and we have quickly opened additional congregant shelterings as necessary so we are going to grow that capacity even more, but no matter what we do, we intend to transition away from congregant sheltering and into non-congregant sheltering. one more question.
go ahead. >> [inaudible] gov. edwards: yeah. look, my biggest concern is probably the same as the vast majority of people of louisiana, how destructive is this storm going to be? how many lives are going to be turned upside down? but principally, it is how many lives are we going to lose, both as a direct result of the storm and indirect result of people not being safety conscious as they use their generators or start to clean up or if they get impatient and start to drive before they should. these are the things that typically result in more deaths than the storm, and it includes heat exhaustion, especially if you don't have an air conditioner and you are out working and you are not accustomed to that kind of work
in the heat, you can succumb to heat exhaustion. i think we lost nine individuals last year from that. those are the biggest concerns. we are all about saving lives at this point. beyond that, we will start working to deal with property damage and destruction issues as well and they are going to be considerable. you asked, what are you worried about the most? my mind has a lot of things on it, but not the least of which is the restoration of electricity. we all want electricity this time of year because it is hot and humid. i am more concerned this time because there are so many people in hospitals. i understand that generators are great, but over time, they tend to fail. so getting power restored quickly but having prioritized estimation so that your most
critical needs are restored first is going to be important and until we can make that happen -- and by the way, there may be 30 thousand linemen available in the state to restore power after the storm. i don't know that we have ever had that number before. but prioritizing their work is going to be important, and making sure that we can quickly respond with additional generators and maintenance and so forth and fuel between now and then so that those hospitals and other critical assets, if there generator goes down -- their generator goes down, we are able to quickly get that power back on. we are talking about hospitals, but dialysis centers are important as well. dialysis requires an awful lot of water. so your water systems cannot go down. we have had recent experience with this. laura and delta last year not water systems out -- knocked
water systems out. you have a difficult time delivering a basic service for people who have the most critical needs. there is an intersection between people who need dialysis and people who are especially vulnerable to covid. making sure we can continue to do all the antibody infusions, because that is one of the best tools that we have to prevent people from beating a hospital bed after they contract covid -- needing a hospital bed after they contract covid. we are going to have to stand that backup. there are more things than i have time to go over and as it happens, they are going back now because we are going to sit around the table and we are going to spend hours trying to identify every contingency that
we believe may be applicable on the most important missions that the state has, which is principal to lifesaving and the immediate response to the storm. was there anything that anybody over there wanted to add before we close out? again, thank you all for continuing to cover this. we have a long ways to go, both as this storm continues to move through our state, but also in the days and likely the weeks to come. we are asking for people to be patient, we are asking for people to pay attention to the local folks and do what they are asked to do and understand that we are going to be working just as hard as we can with our local and federal partners to bring relief, especially lifesaving relief, as soon as we are able to do that.
i don't know when i will be speaking to you all next. do we have -- ok. we will let you know. tomorrow, i'm hoping that we can fit up in the air and travel around and visit with people and get our eyes on exactly what the damages, and that is one of the reasons we are not going to schedule a press briefing tomorrow, but we may likely have one, but you will be told what time and the location of that later. thank you. announcer: tonight on q&a a conversation on the book the triumph of nancy reagan on the strength and tenacity of the former first lady who helped shape the reagan presidency. >> she had one agenda, ronald reagan's well-being and success, and she was also -- she had better instincts about people that he did -- than he did and a
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