Cassidy on Hurricane Ida shelters, storm mitigation and $1 trillion infrastructure bill

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U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana)

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – On Wednesday, Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy expressed gratitude for the response of Shreveport and all of north Louisiana for opening shelters for south Louisiana Hurricane Ida evacuees.

Cassidy, who toured some of the most damaged parishes on Tuesday said there are hundreds of people rendered homeless after the hurricane ravaged the area on August 29th.

Although evacuees are continuing to be brought to north Louisiana, a flexible program on shelters is in place, and some shelters are actually closing, while others remain open.

Cassidy said Monroe is closing its shelter because the evacuees there were from St. Mary Parish, and it did not sustain the severe damages other parishes did, so the people there were able to go home.

At the same time, he said, Shreveport still has shelter space availability and is continuing to receive evacuees.

“Thank goodness for these shelters,” he said, “thank goodness for the folks in Shreveport and elsewhere that have been so opening and so supportive because when you go down there, you realize those folks don’t have a place to go right now.”

Cassidy, a physician, who has tirelessly worked to educate people on the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines and has urged people to get inoculated from the time they became available, said although the vaccine is not mandated, it has been made available in shelters for those who want it.

In addition, he said, shelters all use social distancing and masks. The Shreveport shelter, located in the old Sam’s Club building, is massive and allows for social distancing.

Like the Shreveport shelter, Cassidy said, they’re all well-ventilated across the state, “It’s not like an elevator where everybody’s squeezed together,” he said, “it’s more like as close as you can be to being outside in terms of lot’s of air circulating in terms of what you could otherwise have.”

Although Cassidy’s office said there is still plenty of room in shelters in Louisiana, there are shelters set up in other states, should they be needed.

Tuesday was a busy day for Cassidy, as not only did he visit Lafourche Parish and review hurricane damage in Galliano and Golden Meadow, as well as some emergency operations centers, but also announced a U.S. Department of Transportation grant of $5 million in emergency funds to repair Louisiana’s federal highways damaged by the hurricane.

But the real help for Louisiana will come if the U.S. House of Representatives passes the bi-partisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which the U.S. Senate passed in August.

Although Cassidy said one of the reasons he supports the infrastructure bill is that after Hurricane Katrina, the work done on the levees in south Louisiana paid off – there was no flooding in St. Bernard, Jefferson, Orleans or Plaquemine Parishes.

But now, “we need to build resiliency into our grid,” Cassidy said. The bill, which was passed by the U.S. Senate in August, adding that passing the infrastructure bill would benefit the Shreveport/Bossier areas.

He said there’s also money in the bill for ice storm resiliency, and dredging the Red River and all the benefits that come from increased dredging, such as flood mitigation.

“It is not the $3.5 trillion, which is a kind of liberal wish list,” but instead is for roads and bridges, adding that one of the things already on the list in the bill is the completion of I-49 North.

Cassidy said, “It’s not the $3.5 trillion, it’s not the Green New Deal, it’s not social programs. It’s hard infrastructure.”

And, finally, he said, it’ll be a job creator – construction jobs, oil and gas jobs, jobs in the service industry and more.

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