Scalise Joins Jefferson Parish Officials for Update on Hurricane Ida Recovery
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) joined Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng for a press conference with local officials to give an update on recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. Whip Scalise highlighted several resources for affected residents to utilize, including applications for FEMA assistance and other federal initiatives to help people get back on their feet. Whip Scalise also mentioned that he’s been in touch with numerous federal, state and local officials about getting aid to impacted communities as quickly as possible.
Click here or on the image above to watch video of the press conference.
On getting aid to local hospitals:
“Well, thank you Cynthia, and there are a number of initiatives going on [at the federal, state and local levels.] Big, big concern obviously is getting power back on. I know there are still some search-and-rescue operations. Yesterday, a lot of time was spent trying to help evacuate some of the hospitals in the lower-lying areas, specifically Terrebonne General Medical Center, took a lot of damage during the storm. You saw where the eye came in at Port Fourchon, but you saw a lot of damage to some of those lower-lying hospitals. As you can imagine, not only did they have physical damage, they don’t have regular power, although every hospital, and I’ve talked to the heads of hospitals for the entire region, every hospital does have backup and enough power supply, meaning most of them are fueled by some kind of diesel or oil generator. So, they’re able to get the fuel that they need to keep their generators going, and we made sure that that’s something that is not a concern, but power in general is a big concern. So, we’re trying to get a lot of generators in. We’re getting offers from the private sector. We’re pushing really hard to get FEMA to bring in more generators, and that’s another issue I know [Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng] has been working on with the [Jefferson Parish] Council. The other parishes in the region are pushing as well."
On FEMA assistance:
"There are a few different issues that we’re working with FEMA on. They have started the individual assistance program, so people can go online right now and apply for individual assistance. For all of us who went through Hurricane Katrina, we know that there were a number of different programs underneath FEMA that helped people in the recovery process. This is the very beginning of that process and as people realize they may not have power for days or weeks, they’re looking for other places to stay. There is help for you. You can go to http://scalise.house.gov on my website. We have a number of links to some of those sites. You can apply online for that FEMA individual assistance. Something else we’ve been talking to FEMA a lot about is getting the Blue Roof Program back up and running. This was something incredibly successful and effective during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. So many people had roof damage. It’s a program where FEMA went through the Corps of Engineers, and the Corps ultimately contracted to get blue roofs on people’s houses that had damage, so that while they’re trying to wait to get contractors to actually get the roofs fixed — there is still rain coming as we saw last night — and you want to make sure you can try to at least get those holes covered so you can limit the damage that’s already inside your house as people are starting that process of gutting their houses. So we’re urging FEMA to get that program up and running. It could happen any minute. As soon as we find out word from FEMA, we will let you know. That would be something that would apply to every parish that was affected. So, we’re pushing hard to get that done. We’ll let you know as soon as that happens."
On the outpouring of support from faith-based groups:
"Cynthia also mentioned we’re getting incredible offers from a lot of faith-based groups. Again, something we saw after Katrina where faith-based groups stepped up as the federal, state, and local agencies were working together. You had a lot of other neighbors. You know, our neighbors are helping each other right now, which is so important. It’s something we’ve always seen. It’s one of the strengths of the people of South Louisiana. We go through tough storms, we come together, and we pull together, and we help each other out. But there are people all around the country that want to help us out too, and I know I’ve been fielding a lot of those calls. Yesterday, I was working with a group called Samaritan’s Purse. They’re a group that works all around the world. They’ve offered to bring three different sites in southeast Louisiana to set up really soon to start bringing relief supplies to families, and that’s something we’re working with a number of groups like that to do."
On providing aid from the federal level:
"So, as we’re working with the federal agencies to get relief, obviously Governor John Bel Edwards, through the state, we’ve been talking about a number of those things. [White House Senior Advisor] Cedric Richmond and I spoke this morning, as Cynthia did, we’ve been in daily contact with each other. He’s the main point person for President Biden, and they’re offering any help that we need. Obviously, he knows this region really well. He knows the needs. We talked very extensively about power supply. We talked about the hospitals. We talked about the recovery efforts, and look, there is going to be a need for a massive recovery effort to get people back in their homes, to get our communities back built up. Just like we saw with the Road Home Program after Katrina, the first step is to get a Community Development Block Grant Program working. It would be very flexible money for parishes to start getting things moving, and there are other things that come after that. One thing we need to do to get that ball rolling is to get a supplemental appropriations bill. So, we have put that request in and hopefully we will see Congress take action soon to start the first stage. I’m sure there will be more than one step in this process, but we want to start that process."
On neighbors coming together to support one another:
"Just so everybody knows, we all take care of each other. We’re here in Jefferson Parish. We take care of our neighbors here in southeast Louisiana. We know our friends in southwest Louisiana are still struggling too from Hurricane Laura. So, we’re not going to forget them if there’s a supplemental request. We want to make sure that they are also going to be included in this, but the main thing is to make sure that people can get back in their houses to make sure that communities can get back open, that the parishes as they’re working to get power back up, can get the sewer and water systems up. So everybody’s working together to get all of these resources out there. Making sure we take care of people’s livelihoods is the first and most important thing, but then now getting power back up — making sure that people have the ability to come back home and rebuild their communities, that’s the next step. I know we’re all working together to get that done and we’ll continue pulling together and we will get through this like we’ve gotten through other disasters. This was a really bad storm, for many people worse than Katrina. The flooding of course was the worst part of Katrina and the loss of life came from that. The levees did hold, but with the massive storm — Category Four for hours, then a Category Three for hours — really pummeling this region for a long time. It's going to be a long recovery, and so we're in this for the long haul. We're going to keep working together, and we're going to get through this.”