This morning, Senior Advisor and Director of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, and National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham convened calls with members of the Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi congressional delegations as well as with Louisiana local leaders to update them on the Administration’s preparations for Hurricane Ida, which made landfall today as a dangerous major hurricane on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. In their calls, the officials made clear the Administration is ready to provide assistance as needed and aid local emergency response efforts. Additionally, Richmond spoke individually with Louisiana Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson, Louisiana Congressmembers Steve Scalise, Garret Graves, and Troy Carter, and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell to get updates and offer support.
This afternoon, President Biden visited FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center to receive the latest updates on Hurricane Ida response operations and to address the American people. In advance of the storm’s landfall, the President approved Emergency Declarations for the states of Louisiana and Mississippi, authorizing emergency preparation and protective measures, including direct Federal assistance such as power generation, air transportation assets, wildlife management assistance, and water management for both states. The President also spoke with the Governors of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama on Friday to make clear that states have the full support of the Federal government. Yesterday, the President called FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell to thank the staff on National Response Coordination Center, the multiagency center that coordinates disaster response and prioritizes the allocation of Federal government resources.
In advance of the storm, more than 2,400 FEMA employees were deployed, and Incident Management Assistance Teams and Urban Search and Rescue teams were activated. FEMA also prepositioned millions of meals and liters of water, as well as tarps, generators, and additional ambulances. The American Red Cross has opened shelters across the impacted states with cots, blankets, comfort kits and ready-to-eat meals as well and is implementing steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including through the use of masking, rapid testing, and social distancing. The Coast Guard proactively positioned vessels and aircraft for search and rescue efforts. The Department of Energy is working with private sector power providers, and power restoration crews from nearby states and power restoration experts from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are prepositioned to help get the power back on as fast as feasible. The Army Corps of Engineers has also activated planning and response teams for debris, temporary roofing, and temporary housing.