The President is closely monitoring recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Ida. He has directed that the Federal government take prompt and specific actions to respond to the needs of Americans who are suffering from the storm’s devastating impacts. President Biden has spoken twice with the Governors of Louisiana and Mississippi and with mayors and parish leaders from areas most affected by Hurricane Ida. He made clear there will be a robust Federal response in support of state, tribal, and local officials, and that the Federal government will closely coordinate with local and private sector partners. On Tuesday, the President specifically authorized a series of actions to assist with urgent power restoration efforts in the Gulf Coast. He spoke with national and regional electricity sector leaders to make clear that the Administration will provide whatever support and resources are needed for ongoing power restoration efforts. The FEMA Administrator has already traveled to Louisiana and Mississippi to survey storm damage and discuss recovery efforts with state and local partners.
Before Hurricane Ida made landfall, the President approved Emergency Declarations for the States of Louisiana and Mississippi. These declarations authorized FEMA to provide assistance for emergency measures to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety in Louisiana and Mississippi and fund emergency protective measures. The Federal government also proactively pre-positioned resources across the region before Hurricane Ida made landfall, including search and rescue equipment, meals, water, generators, equipment, and personnel to assist states with impacts from the storm.
Following the devastating landfall of Hurricane Ida, the Administration has taken swift action to support response and recovery efforts:
Approved a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of Louisiana:
- On August 29, President Biden approved a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of Louisiana, authorizing Individual and Public Assistance for impacted parishes and hazard mitigation statewide. It also authorized federal assistance to fully fund emergency debris removal and emergency protective measures for the first 30 days.
Assistance to Disaster Survivors:
- FEMA and the Small Business Administration (SBA) are providing assistance to disaster survivors who have sustained losses from Hurricane Ida. FEMA assistance may include grants to help pay for temporary housing, emergency home repairs, uninsured and underinsured personal property losses, and medical, dental and funeral expenses caused by the disaster, together with other serious disaster-related expenses.
- FEMA has also turned on Critical Needs Assistance, providing $500 to applicants who have immediate or critical needs because they are displaced from their homes as a result of the Major Disaster Declaration the President approved. So far, more than 31,000 households in Louisiana have received a one-time payment.
- The SBA has begun offering low-interest disaster loans to qualified businesses of all sizes, nonprofits, homeowners and renters.
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is offering assistance to families living in impacted parishes covered by the major disaster declaration, including providing immediate foreclosure relief; making mortgage insurance available; making insurance available for mortgages and home rehabilitation; sharing information on available providers; and offering additional flexibilities to communities in their administration of HUD programs.
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reviving its free Operation Blue Roof program to get as many houses into living condition as possible in impacted Parishes in Louisiana during Hurricane Ida recovery. The program provides homeowners in disaster areas with fiber-reinforced sheeting to cover damaged roofs until permanent repairs are made.
- To help disaster survivors register for Federal assistance, Mobile Emergency Response Support assets including Emergency Operations Vehicles are deployed to support Louisiana and Mississippi. This includes an additional six FEMA Mobile Communications Operations Vehicle (MCOVs) equipped with satellite technology that are en route to Louisiana to serve as a mobile command center.
- Individuals in affected areas can apply for disaster assistance and get referrals to local, state and federal agencies and voluntary organizations. The fastest way for anyone in impacted areas to apply for disaster assistance under the Major Disaster Declaration is through DisasterAssistance.gov.
Providing Emergency Support:
- FEMA has already delivered more than 4.5 million meals, 3.6 million liters of water, more than 134,000 tarps, nearly 250 generators to the region, and hundreds of additional ambulances have been transported to Louisiana and Mississippi to assist with medical evacuations and transfer patients from health care facilities impacted by the storm. The Defense Logistics Agency has been activated for leasing of additional generators.
- The Department of Agriculture issued a waiver allowing Louisiana Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to use their benefits to purchase “hot” or prepared foods through September 28th.
- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has approximately 100 personnel currently deployed for the Ida response – including one Incident Management Team and two Disaster Medical Assistance Teams. There are also two additional Disaster Medical Assistance Teams and one Joint Patient Movement Team preparing to deploy – bringing the total HHS personnel deployed to 173 by the end of the day.
- HHS is setting-up a 250-bed Federal Medical Station in New Orleans and will provide staffing support via Disaster Medical Assistance Teams.
- HHS is also establishing a patient evacuation site at Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, to be staffed with a Disaster Medical Assistance Team and Joint Patient Movement Team.
- HHS is also deploying a Disaster Medical Assistance Team to the Thibodaux Regional Health System Hospital in Thibodaux, Louisiana to support a hospital decompression mission. This hospital is one of the only fully operational medical facilities in Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes.
- 12 Urban Search and Rescue teams are currently operational in Louisiana to support state and local efforts. The teams have completed more than 8,900 structural evaluations.
- The Coast Guard and the Department of Defense are assisting with search and rescue efforts. The Coast Guard had 34 aviation, 26 rotary and 8 fixed-wing search and rescue assets prepositioned, and the Department of Defense has 60 high water vehicles and 14 rotary wing assets that were prepositioned to assist with search and rescue efforts. The National Guard Bureau has 195 high-water vehicles and 23 rotary wing assets prepositioned to assist with search and rescue in Louisiana, and 680 high water vehicles and five rotary wing assets in Mississippi.
- More than 6,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen from Louisiana and 10 other states are responding to the aftermath of Hurricane Ida to support recovery efforts.
- The Army Corps of Engineers activated planning and response teams for debris removal, temporary roofing, and temporary housing in advance of the storm.
Expediting Power Restoration to Impacted Communities:
- The President convened a call with energy sector CEOs to convey to them the specific actions he has directed in response to their requests for support to their power restoration efforts. He emphasized that his Administration is ready to provide help and resources as needed to help expedite power restoration efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi. The Administration is closely coordinating with private electricity sector companies to fully understand the challenges they are facing as a consequence of the storm and identify any means of supporting speedier restoration of power.
- The Federal government is sharing aerial imagery from reconnaissance flights and satellite imagery to support damage assessments for energy infrastructure.
- More than 25,000 linemen and clearance crews from 32 states and D.C are in the region racing to restore power.
- A catastrophic responsive team from the Bonneville Power Administration with expertise in bulk power system transmission operations is on hand under DOE’s coordinating authority to ensure energy companies are supported on behalf of the Federal government and have access to resources as appropriate.
- FEMA personnel are supporting efforts by the State of Louisiana and the National Guard to remove debris and clear roads so restoration workers and equipment can have easier passage and access to downed wires and poles.
- DOE is working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite permitting for rerunning of transmission cable across the Mississippi River and for standing up transmission towers to enable power to get back on line as quickly as possible.
- While assessments are still ongoing to understand the full impact of the storm on transmission lines and towers, FEMA has deployed nearly 250 generators in the region, and FEMA and DOE are working to deliver more generators to expand temporary power to emergency services while supporting efforts to restart Entergy’s Nuclear Waterford 3 plant, where power has been restored.
Increasing the Availability of Gasoline and Easing Price Pressures:
- The Department of Transportation (DOT) has extended and amended an emergency declaration that offers temporary flexibility to how many hours a truck driver can drive. This applies nationally to goods that support the Covid-19 response, and will now include gasoline and other types of fuel and building materials in addition to medical supplies, and food. Because this hurricane is hitting a region that is a key center of the nation’s oil production and refining infrastructure, this waiver should help reduce the risk of gasoline shortages or price increases stemming from the hurricane. DOT’s top priority remains safety, and this waiver is accompanied by additional safety related reporting requirements to allow the department to monitor driver work hours. In addition, DOT has activated the Routing Assistance Hotline to assist first responders.
- The EPA has approved emergency fuel waivers for Louisiana and Mississippi, effective immediately, which will expand the supply of gasoline that can be sold in these two states and increase availability at this critical time. EPA and DOE are continuing to actively monitor the fuel supply situation, and will act expeditiously if extreme and unusual supply circumstances exist in other areas.
- EPA issued a waiver of the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) requirements in Louisiana and Mississippi to help improve the fuel supply circumstances caused by Hurricane Ida. The waiver begins August 30, 2021, and ends September 16, 2021.
- The Federal Railroad Administration activated an Emergency Relief Docket to offer railroads the ability to obtain temporarily waivers to quickly speed up service recovery and restoration to move goods for emergency relief efforts.
- The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a waiver that gives the United States Coast Guard 8th District and the Environmental Protection Agency flexibility to transport non-radioactive hazardous materials to help with relief efforts in areas impacted by the Hurricane.
- The IRS has announced that it will not impose a penalty when dyed diesel fuel is used or sold for use on highways in a number of parishes in the state of Louisiana. This action expands the availability of diesel for use on Louisiana roads at a critical time for response and recovery efforts. Dyed diesel is not taxed since it is intended for off-highway uses, such as farming equipment, construction vehicles, and home heating. For that reason, use of this fuel on the highways incurs an IRS penalty. The IRS is waiving the penalty in affected parishes within Louisiana, and only the tax that is typically due on diesel will have to be paid by sellers/operators. The waiver will be in effect between August 29, 2021 and September 15, 2021.
Restoring Critical Communications:
- The FCC is working directly with wireless carriers on their implementation of the Wireless Resiliency Cooperative Framework, which allows customers to use any cellular provider to get a cell signal if their provider’s network is down and fosters mutual aid among wireless providers during emergencies. This has helped cell service come back online quicker.
- The FCC provided technical assistance to 911 call centers that were impacted by the storm.
- FEMA is providing temporary cell and radio infrastructure to improve communications.
- The FCC deployed staff to Louisiana in advance of the storm and is sending additional resources to support spectrum management, identify impacts, and prioritize recovery efforts. It is also engaged in daily coordination with industry on the transport of necessary equipment to help fill communications gaps.