Scalise Joins Governor Edwards for Update on Recovery Efforts Following Hurricane Ida
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) joined Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and other officials for a press conference in Jefferson Parish to provide an update on recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Ida. Whip Scalise talked about his flyover tour with Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng and Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson of the hardest-hit areas and his discussions with Coast Guard service members on their rescue efforts throughout the storm. Whip Scalise also announced the launch of U.S. Corps of Engineers and FEMA’s Operation Blue Roof Program to provide relief to homeowners with damaged roofs as they wait for permanent repairs.
Click here or on the image above to view Whip Scalise's remarks.
On the importance of not leaving Lake Charles behind after Hurricane Laura:
“In fact, this morning, one of the conversations I had was with Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter, and I know all of us, Governor [John Bel Edwards] and [Senator Bill Cassidy], have been working to try to help the people of Lake Charles recover from Hurricane Laura. We don’t just look at ourselves as isolated communities because whether it’s Louisiana or even other states, so many of my colleagues from around the country have reached out and said, ‘How can we help?’ People want to help. Neighbors, we’re all in this together, and we’re going to work to make sure that we rebuild this area. But we also want to make sure that we don’t leave Lake Charles behind as well. As supplemental appropriations talks move forward, and they’re already happening as we speak, and as President Biden comes in on Friday we will be having that conversation with him as well. But we also want to make sure that the Lake Charles community is not left behind either."
On touring some of the most devastated communities:
"But now if we talk about the assessment here, and as [Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng] mentioned, this morning I wanted to go out to see some of the most hard-hit areas, and so we went out, we got with [Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson] as well as Cynthia Sheng. We looked over some of the really hard hit areas, Obviously, Port Fourchon is where Ida struck ground, and when you look at some of the reports, I wouldn’t be surprised if they go back and reassess this and upgrade it to a Category Five storm because when you look at some of the damage, they recorded in parts of Port Fourchon winds in excess of 180 mph. So when you look at that devastation, and it’s massive devastation, when you see major marine vessels picked up and moved, dry docks picked up and moved, it tells you just what kind of strong winds hit for sustained hours at a time to do so much damage. We saw the destruction that was done to those communities in Grand Isle and Port Fourchon, and we rode up the whole route that Ida took, and you can see the devastation all around. So, we know this is going to be a process to get back on track to rebuild stronger."
On the rebuilding process:
But as we rebuild stronger, we really need to rethink how we rebuild, and this is something we did after Hurricane Katrina. There were a lot of debates about levees. We saw the flaws of the old levee boards. We had big battles in Baton Rouge and overcame those and finally reorganized our levee boards to put professionals in charge. And when we rebuilt those levees, Governor, we saw much stronger levees — as the Governor alluded to — that held. All of those levees, even the levees in Terrebonne and Lafourche that they built on their own. They’re not yet Corps-certified — we’re trying to get Morganza-to-the-Gulf. But they built their own levees and those levees held even in these highly destructive winds of Hurricane Ida. And so, because we rethought how to do it better — not just rebuilding what we had, not rebuilding what broke — but rebuilding better so it doesn’t break again, and those levees didn’t break. And that’s the kind of conversation we need to be having as we think about how to rebuild the power grid and other conversations."
On the tremendous rescue efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard:
"And I talked with the Coast Guard about that because the Coast Guard ultimately not only are heroes, and you go back to Hurricane Katrina, one of the real heroes was the United States Coast Guard. We never forget that. I always tell Coast Guard service members when I see them that we thank them for the service they gave us. They literally saved lives. Countless lives after Katrina. Picking people off of rooftops. Well, you know what? They did it again. They were out there right after the storm passed. Helping [get] people out of their houses in those flood stricken areas. And they’re also in charge of our navigable waterways, and there’s a lot of damage to our navigable waterways, not just the power line over the Mississippi River, but also some of the vessels that are strewn about. They’re well aware of that. We saw some other things that they were taking note of. So we’re going to continue working with all of our federal partners."
On FEMA's Operation Blue Roof Program:
"But, as we continue working on problems, those ones that we’ve identified — yesterday, we were talking right here last night about trying to get that Blue Roof Program back up and running. I want to thank FEMA for working quickly — fastest time in the history of FEMA the Blue Roof Program has existed, the fastest time that they’ve gotten that program up and running, and it’s available right now for anybody who had roof damage. As the Governor said, the house has to be habitable. You’ve got to be able to get back in it, but if the roof has damage, that program is now up and running, fully paid for by FEMA through the Corps of Engineers to get people out there to put a blue roof on your roof — not just to pick up a tarp, but to actually install it professionally so that you can get through the storm, get through whatever might come in the future weeks and months, until you can get your roof fixed. I know we have that on our website, too. You can go to http://scalise.house.gov. You can sign up for the Blue Roof Program. You can also sign up for the individual assistance program and the other things that FEMA has in place already, and as new things come, we’ll continue to work on that. But we’re all going to pull together all the way through this. We need to get the power back up, we need to get fuel. I’ll be on a call tonight with all the major refineries across the country as we’re trying to get more fuel into our region. But we’re going to keep working together. Governor, Parish President Sheng, thank you.”