BATON ROUGE — The White House has approved Louisiana’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration following the flash flooding in mid-May, which damaged several thousand homes and left five people dead, Gov. Edwards announced Wednesday. This makes affected residents in five parishes eligible to apply for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“I want to thank President Biden for his quick approval of our request for a Major Disaster Declaration, which will go a long way to help the thousands of people affected in Louisiana by quick and severe flash flooding that damaged homes and left five people dead,” Gov. Edwards said. “As people continue to recover, I encourage everyone who was affected in Ascension, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Iberville and Lafayette parishes to register for FEMA aid. If your parish is not yet declared and you suffered damage, you may continue self-reporting it online atdamage.la.gov.”
Gov. Edwards’ initial request was for FEMA Individual Assistance for five parishes – Ascension, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Iberville and Lafayette. Individual Assistance includes aid from FEMA related to housing and other needs. The White House also approved Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding statewide.
If additional parishes have sufficient damage identified through the state’s preliminary damage assessment process, the Governor’s request will be amended to request these parishes.
The Governor declared a state of emergency for this disaster on May 17, 2021.
So far, more than 2,900 homes have reported damage from the severe weather, including six that were reported as destroyed, 737 suffering major damage and 1,209 homes having minor damage. Louisiana continues to collect reports from the public via a self-reporting process at damage.la.gov. Everyone with weather related damages is encouraged to take the survey, as additional parishes may be added to the request.
Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated parishes can begin applying for assistance by registering online athttp://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.
Gov. Edwards Requests Major Disaster Declaration from President Biden Due to Severe Weather, Flash Flooding in Five Parishes in Louisiana
BATON ROUGE — Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards requested that President Joseph. R. Biden declare a federal disaster declaration for Louisiana following severe weather and flash flooding earlier in May, which caused damage to at least 2,000 homes. The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness anticipates that damage levels exceed the actual damage reported.
Gov. Edwards’ request is for FEMA Individual Assistance for five parishes – Ascension, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Iberville and Lafayette. Individual Assistance includes aid from FEMA related to housing and other needs. The Governor also requested Small Business Administration assistance and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding statewide. The Governor declared a state of emergency for this disaster on May 17, 2021.
“The severe weather that quickly affected Louisiana in mid-May caused flash flooding and at least one tornado. Five people died, thousands were without power and many businesses and schools were forced to close,” Gov. Edwards said. “In Calcasieu parish, many people who were impacted in this severe weather also faced damage from Hurricanes Laura and Delta last year, which is heartbreaking. Areas in Southeast Louisiana that flooded had similarly been affected in 2016 during historic flooding in Louisiana. We are coming off of an incredibly active hurricane season, an ongoing pandemic and facing down the next hurricane season in just a few days. I am hopeful the President will grant this disaster declaration to assist our people with their rebuilding process.”
Click here to view the Governor’s request.
In total, 1,729 houses were validated damaged from the severe weather, including 5 that were reported as destroyed, 640 suffering major damage and 1,084 homes having minor damage. Louisiana collected reports from the public via a self-report process at damage.la.gov.
Lafayette, Louisiana (April 20, 2021) – 232-HELP/211 and United Way of Acadiana announced the launch of the Ride United Vaccine Access Campaign. This program gives residents who have transportation challenges free rides to COVID-19 vaccination sites in Lafayette and surrounding area with Lyft. Residents can access this transportation assistance or learn more by dialing 211. This effort is made possible through a grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation in partnership with United Way Worldwide, and United Ways serving the Acadiana region.
As parish, state and federal officials continue scaling up the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the Ride United Vaccine Access Campaign will help more eligible people get immunized to protect their health and the health of the community. Rides are provided through Lyft ride credits, which you can activate on a Lyft smart phone app. Or, you can call 211 to schedule a ride, Monday to Friday 8am to 4:30pm, subject to Lyft availability.
“Now that the COVID-19 vaccines are available to everyone 16 and older in Louisiana, we want to help as many people as possible get their shot,” said Michael Tipton, President of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation. “Unfortunately, lack of transportation prevents many people who would otherwise sign up from getting the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s why we’re proud to support the Ride United Vaccine Access Campaign and make free rides available to and from vaccine appointments for those who need them. Vaccination not only improves health and lives, it’s how we can get back to the things and the people we love.”
232-HELP/211 serves help seekers dialing 211 from a 10 parish area and work as part of the Louisiana 211 Statewide Network. 211 call specialists are trained to address the root causes of a caller’s problem by locating available help in their communities – whether it’s transportation, food, disaster assistance, crisis counseling, health care or housing. Since the COVID-19 response effort began in March 2020, Louisiana 211 has partnered with the Louisiana Department of Health to serve the state’s hotline for general COVID-19 questions, which has so far helped more than 165,000 Louisianans get COVID-19 specific information and assistance for their needs.
“232-HELP/211 has worked to give personalized attention to the elderly and vulnerable populations, ensuring that they have information to take effective steps to stay well as we navigate COVID-19,” says Chris Roy, Executive Director of 232-HELP/211. “Through this partnership, 232-HELP/ 211 is able to now provide transportation help through the Ride United Vaccine Access effort.
As of Tuesday, April 20, the program is underway in Lafayette and the immediate surrounding area. If outside of the Lafayette immediate area, visitlyft.com/vaccine-access and click “Get a ride” to see if there are eligible services in their local communities.
“United Way of Acadiana is proud to partner on this initiative with 232-HELP/211 and looks forward to helping those with transportation needs with access to the vaccine,” says Carlee Alm-LaBar, CEO of United Way of Acadiana. “We have been working through the COVID-19 pandemic to help our neighbors in need, and supporting the vaccine rollout is a critical part of the recovery.”
I am proud to announce that I have been elected as Chairman of the Louisiana State Senate Democratic Caucus. Because of my past helping the community in the public realm, I have no doubt that I will be an asset to assist my fellow party members and to serve my state well. Thank you so much to the Louisiana Democratic Caucus for entrusting me with this new role.
Gov. John Bel Edwards Outlines Priorities for $1.6 Billion in American Rescue Plan Funding in Louisiana
BATON ROUGE — Gov. John Bel Edwards today outlined his plan for spending $1.6 billion in federal funding coming to Louisiana through President Joseph R. Biden’s American Rescue Plan to keep Louisiana on the road to post-pandemic recovery by investing in infrastructure, keeping the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund solvent, addressing Louisiana’s aging water systems, assisting the tourism industry and supporting Louisiana’s ports.
The state is awaiting final federal guidance on spending these ARP dollars. The $1.6 billion represents the first amount of funding Louisiana will draw down, with additional funding being used to address long-term priorities in future years.
“At our COVID-19 bottom, Louisiana’s economy was generating about 86 percent of our pre-virus economic output. Today, we’re back to more than 94 percent of pre-COVID levels, and growing. There is no doubt that Louisiana is on the mend, but we still need some help in order to make a full recovery. By investing these American Rescue Plan dollars wisely, we can shore up our unemployment insurance trust fund and avoid businesses paying higher taxes, continue to chip away at Louisiana’s backlog of infrastructure projects, support our tourism industry and improve our aging water infrastructure,” Gov. Edwards said. “I am deeply grateful to President Biden for his commitment to helping Louisiana kickstart its economy again after the crushing blow dealt to our country by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“I’m so thankful the Governor recognizes the importance of tourism and supports our efforts to reignite the state’s fourth largest industry,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “As every destination on the globe fights for potential visitors, these funds will give us the means to advertise and market our great state during a time of unprecedented competition. We want Louisiana to stand out from the crowd as a top travel destination.”
Governor Edwards’ priorities for the first $1.6 billion in funding are:
- Shoring up the Unemployment Trust Fund – $400 million
- Unemployment Insurance loan payment – $230 million
- Infrastructure – $400 million
- Water and Sewer Systems – $300 million
- Tourism and Convention and Visitors Bureaus – $125 million
- Department of Culture Recreation and Tourism – $20 million
- Louisiana Ports – $50 million
With New Tools to Fight the Spread of COVID-19, Local Leaders and Businesses Now in Charge of Policies Requiring Masks in Louisiana
BATON ROUGE — Following months of sustained improvement in COVID hospitalizations and an increase in the supply and availability of vaccines, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that some mitigation measures will be eased and, starting Wednesday, April 28, the statewide mask mandate will be lifted.
Mask policies in Louisiana will be set by local leaders and business owners. Under the Governor’s new public health order, masks will still be required on public transit and in state government buildings, K-12 schools, early childhood education centers, colleges and universities, and healthcare facilities.
More than one in four Louisianans are now fully vaccinated, including two-thirds of those 65 and older. The state of Louisiana joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal and medical officials in recommending that people wear masks in public or when they are with unvaccinated people outside of their households.
All Louisianans 16 and older have been eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine for more than a month and Louisiana was one of the first states to broaden vaccine eligibility to the full population. The three safe and effective COVID vaccines are widely available in Louisiana.
“Many Louisianans have been wearing masks for more than a year now and the statewide mask mandate has been in place for nearly 10 months. We know masks work – the science is clear and we’ve seen the positive impact in our own state. It’s intuitive for people to protect themselves with masks in higher risk situations, and this important mitigation measure should continue. But we have many more tools for slowing the spread of COVID than we did even a few months ago, including better treatments and, most importantly, several highly effective and safe vaccines,” Gov. Edwards said. “I want to be clear: this is not the end of wearing masks in public, as COVID-19 and the spread of variants are still a real threat in our communities. Louisianans should respect each other and businesses and places where masks will be required as we move into a new phase of slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. I will continue to wear a mask in government buildings and in public, especially when I do not know if someone around me has been vaccinated, and I encourage everyone to do this as well.”
The order the Governor signed Tuesday also eases restrictions on live music and allows some businesses, like salons, to re-open their waiting areas. Outdoor events will no longer have crowd limitations.
Social distancing and masking are recommended by both the state of Louisiana and the CDC.
Lifting of the mask mandate does not affect the COVID-19 liability protections that were enacted by the Louisiana Legislature which require businesses and schools to follow the recommendations of state and federal health authorities, all of which recommend continued mask wearing.
For theaters, event spaces, festivals and fairs and other outdoor events, there will be no limitations on outdoor capacity. Indoors, a facility may choose to operate at 75 percent capacity while enforcing six feet of social distancing or at 100 percent capacity with masking required and enforced.
For indoor sporting events, capacity is limited to 75 percent of capacity with social distancing, or 100 percent capacity if a mask mandate is enforced at the venue. Capacity will not be limited outdoors.
For live music, new regulations will require 10 feet of space between the stage and the audience and crowds must be seated. Bars will still only be open to those 21 and older.
State agencies may choose to opt-out of the mask mandate for state-owned buildings in writing to the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and also must inform people entering the building that masks are not mandatory. All state agencies in the Governor’s cabinet and under the Governor’s authority will keep their mask mandates.
The Department of Health additionally will issue a state health officer order that will mandate masks in all health care facilities.
- Click here to read the Governor’s executive order. Additional details for businesses about COVID-safe operations are posted on OpenSafely.la.gov.
The Louisiana Department of Health recommends that the public follow the “Two out of Three” rule to keep themselves safe during COVID.
When in doubt about whether to wear a mask at a certain activity where people outside of a person’s everyday household will be present, they can stay safe by:
- Making sure everyone around them is vaccinated, or
- Maintaining the 2 out of 3 Rule: To lower risk for COVID-19, make sure the activity meets two out of the following three conditions: Outdoors, Distanced and Masked.
- Outdoors + Distanced = No Mask Recommended
- Outdoors + Not Distanced = Mask Recommended
- Indoor + Distanced = Mask Recommended
Residents can call the Bring Back Louisiana COVID-19 vaccine hotline at 1-855-453-0774 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. The hotline can help residents schedule vaccine appointments, find vaccine providers in their area and connect people with medical professionals who can answer vaccine-related questions.
There are several Covid-19 vaccine events happening locally in the coming week. I encourage each and every Louisianan to join me in getting vaccinated to fight the spread of Covid. Please read the images below to find an event in your area, and take the family with you while you’re at it!
Please check each flier carefully for information on dates, location, times, sign-up information, and which vaccine you will be receiving at that particular event. Each location/event is different, so please be aware when making your plans and appointments that you are choosing the correct one for you.
Earlier this week, Governor Edwards announced that Sunday, March 14th will be declared as a Day of Prayer and Remembrance for those Louisianans who lost their lives to Covid-19. In Louisiana alone, we have lost 9,812 lives to Covid-19. While the vaccine is being distributed around the state and new groups become eligible each few weeks, we still need to stay vigilant to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
Please join me in taking this Sunday to remember the lives of those we have lost over the course of this past year, as well as praying for the families who lost loved ones in this time.
Below is the official announcement from the Governor.
Today, March 9, 2021 Governor Edwards announced that there is a new phase of eligibility requirements to get the Covid-19 vaccine. This new phase includes ages 18 and up individuals to receive the vaccine if they meet certain criteria listed below. I encourage you to take the vaccine if you are eligible to protect your family, friends, and those around you.
Below is a flier from the Louisiana Department of Health that lists the eligibility requirements.
Visit this link to see if you are eligible, where you can get vaccinated, and other Covid-19 vaccination news.