Hurricane Ida Recovery: FEMA Assistance Applications Open, No Power Restoration Timeline Yet
FEMA officials have begun to distribute information about assistance following the devastating Hurricane Ida, with city and state leaders reminding people during Tuesday press conferences that they can start the application process.
Residents can apply by visiting disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA, but FEMA Administrator NAME said they are aware that communication is a major issue for Louisianans without power or cellular service. She added that FEMA officials will be sent to neighborhoods to help citizens fill out applications if they cannot access phones or computers.
As of Tuesday, officials said 113,000 households have applied for FEMA assistance. The funds are available to residents in 25 Louisiana parishes.
In St. John Parish, one the river parishes badly hit by Hurricane Ida, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Tuesday FEMA officials are on the grounds in Louisiana assessing damage, but it’s just the beginning.
Entergy, Louisiana’s main power utility company, is expected to give more information Tuesday about power restoration in the state, but the utility has not provided timelines regarding restoring power, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrel said during a press conference.
“I’m not getting any timelines from Entergy at this time other than the assessment work that will continue to happen,” Cantrell said during a Tuesday press conference in response to questions about power restoration in hospitals.
Less than 800,000 of Entergy’s customers are still in the dark, with more than 178,000 of those in Orleans Parish. The 800,000 number doesn’t account for those who use other energy companies, which puts power outage numbers closer to 1 million statewide.
Power restoration could take weeks, according to officials. When one reporter during a press conference with Edwards Tuesday tried to confirm whether it would take 30 days, the Louisiana governor would not give an exact timeline but said he would be “unpleasantly surprised” if full power restoration happened within 30 days.
“I know I’m not satisfied with 30 days,” Edwards said. “But I am mindful that we just had the strongest hurricane, at least tied for the strongest, that the state has ever experienced.”
Edwards has stressed that hospitals, currently housing an unprecedented number of COVID-19 patients, will be prioritized when getting power back to Louisiana.
“Our hospitals are full,” Edwards said. “And we know that even if you have a generator after so many days they start to fail.”
The mass power outages have made residents worried about the August heat. The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory on Tuesday, and the week is expected to see sweltering temperatures.
On Wednesday the city will bring online seven cooling centers, using RTA buses that will be powered by Entergy generators, to provide AC and charging stations. Drive-through point-of-distribution sites will also open tomorrow, providing meals-read-to-eat, ice and water. Tarps are also on their way to the city to help prevent further damage to homes.
Today New Orleans will provide food distribution sites in partnership with World Central Kitchen at the following locations and times:
- Arthur Monday Senior Center
- Saint Roch Park
- Harmony Oaks
- New Philippians Missionary Baptist Church in the Lower 9th Ward
- Saint Maria Goretti Church in New Orleans East
- Rosenwald Recreation Center
- Life Transformation Community Center
Permanent sites will be set up as well. NOLA Ready, the city’s emergency preparedness campaign, will share the location of cooling sites as they are created throughout the city.