This afternoon, President Biden called an appeal with the governors of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Julie Rodriguez to discuss ongoing preparations for Hurricane Ida, which is predicted to strengthen to a Category 4 hurricane. Ida is expected to make landfall on the Gulf Coast as a dangerous major hurricane on Sunday, occasion of the 16th anniversary of the arrival of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast. Earlier this afternoon, the president approved a declaration of emergency for the state of Louisiana.
The president and governors spoke about Ida’s potential impacts and concerns about potentially deadly storm surges, heavy rains and hurricane-force winds. They discussed steps states are taking to pre-position resources and initiate evacuation operations, including putting residents of nursing homes out of harm’s way. Governor Edwards spoke of his commitment to preventing the spread of COVID-19 in shelters through the use of masks, rapid testing and social distancing. The President stressed the importance of getting vaccinated. They discussed the need for residents on the way to the storm to prepare now for significant impacts given the intensity of the storm and expected precipitation and storm surges, including visiting Ready.gov and listening to advice from local authorities.
FEMA is pre-positioning food, water, generators and other resources in the region. It has more than 2,000 people in the affected region and has activated 500 more to provide response support. Urban search and rescue teams and additional ambulances are deploying to the area, and the U.S. Coast Guard is pre-positioning planes and ships for deep-water search and rescue efforts. The US Army Corps of Engineers has deployed an electrical restoration team to Alexandria, Louisiana, in anticipation of widespread power outages. The president described the mutual assistance provided by many power utilities outside of the storm’s path, which involves the establishment of more than 11,000 crews of lines and trees and other equipment to support the restoration of electricity.
During the call, the president made it clear that affected communities will have the full support of the federal government to increase state and local emergency response efforts.
The president and his team were joined during the call by:
- Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards
- Kay Ivey, Governor of Alabama
- Tate Reeves, Governor of Mississippi