BATON ROUGE — Gov. John Bel Edwards, in a Wednesday evening letter to President Joseph R. Biden, requested a Presidential emergency declaration as severe winter weather continues to impact the state, leaving three people dead and tens of thousands of people without electricity and water for several days, with more impacts likely over the next two days.
“Extreme winter weather, including record low temperatures, snow, sleet and freezing rain, has been destructive for many areas of Louisiana, most notably through continued power and water outages across the state. This emergency declaration will help Louisiana better respond to this crisis and protect the health and safety of our people,” Gov. Edwards said. “I spoke with President Biden on Tuesday about the severe impact this historic weather is having on Louisiana, and I am confident that working with our federal and local partners we can overcome these challenges, which are felt particularly hard in communities still recovering from hurricanes since last year.”
The Governor requested direct federal assistance, specifically commodities and supplies in response to the extended power outage and also Emergency Protective measures under the FEMA Public Assistance program.
Severe weather started in Louisiana on February 11, 2021, with a second round of storms beginning on February 17, 2021. More than 200,000 people were without power on the morning of February 16, 2021 and as of Wednesday, February 17, 62,000 Louisiana households still did not have power. In addition, there are 36 water outages throughout 18 parishes and 178 boil water advisories throughout 39 parishes. In total, more than 48,000 Louisianans do not have water and more than 956,000 live in areas with boil water advisories.
In addition to managing the COVID pandemic, Louisiana is currently recovering from multiple hurricanes from 2020, including Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta.