Lawmakers urge Biden to declare major disaster in Louisiana following recent winter storm

Louisiana

A winter storm brought several inches of show and temperatures in the low single digits to downtown Shreveport on Feb. 15, 2021. (Source: KTAL/KMSS Staff)

WASHINGTON (KTAL/KMSS) — Republican lawmakers in Louisiana are urging President Joe Biden to grant a request for a major disaster declaration for the state, which recently faced severe winter storms last month.

U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, along with U.S. Representatives, Mike Johnson, Steve Scalise, Clay Higgins, and Garret Graves are among the delegation who formed a letter to President Biden, asking him to approve the major disaster declaration.

Dear President Biden:

Thank you for your prompt action to issue an emergency declaration for the State of Louisiana due to the recent winter weather event beginning on February 11, 2021. We are confident the federal resources unlocked by that declaration saved life and property as our communities responded to the crisis. The recovery process is now underway, and it is apparent additional federal assistance is warranted. As such, we respectfully ask that you grant the State of Louisiana’s request for a major disaster declaration. 

As you are aware, many of the characteristics of this recent weather event were unprecedented, and its impacts stretched across huge swathes of the state. At the event’s peak, more than 200,000 Louisianians were without electricity, and seven hospitals and six nursing homes relied upon generators as their sole source of electricity. 

The most significant impact, however, came in the form of disruptions to the delivery of water to impacted areas. Due to damaged water mains and related distribution infrastructure, roughly one-quarter of the state’s population experienced either a loss of access to safe drinking water or a loss of access to water altogether. These disruptions extended to hospitals and nursing homes, where bulk water was brought in via truck to continue services to our most vulnerable populations. All told, 63 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes issued emergency declarations in response to this event, and tragically, the state reports six fatalities stemming from the treacherous weather. 

In addition to these considerations, we remain concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic and a record-setting 2020 hurricane season have placed a tremendous strain on the state’s ability to effectively recover from February’s winter weather event. In fact, the emergency declaration you issued for this event marks the tenth federal emergency or disaster the state has experienced in the past 24 months. For these reasons, we ask that you grant the State of Louisiana’s request for a federal disaster declaration as soon as possible. Thank you in advance for your consideration. 

The letter is available below and here

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