Hurricane Sally: As Louisiana is spared, governor says state to help Mississippi, Alabama
As Louisiana appears to have escaped significant impact from Hurricane Sally, the state is prepared to help Mississippi and Alabama recover, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Tuesday.
Previous forecasts showed Sally making landfall west of the New Orleans area, but since Monday the storm has continued to shift east and is now forecast to make landfall near the Mississippi and Alabama Gulf coasts on Wednesday.
Edwards said he was grateful the storm’s path has shifted away from Louisiana, and resources are being prepared to help the state's eastern neighbors following the storm’s landfall.
“(Hurricane Sally) is a very slow moving storm that’s going to drop significant rain and have storm surge on the Gulf Coast there, and she has 80 mph sustained winds,” he said.
“So as we are able, we are doing what we can to transition our focus to our neighbors in Mississippi and Alabama, in addition to continuing Hurricane Laura recovery efforts and resuming a of our COVID testing and COVID-reated activities,” he said during a news conference Tuesday.
Flooding is still expected in the southeastern parts of the state, like Grand Isle and Delacroix, Edwards said, where officials are working to prepare for an expected 1-3 feet of storm surge.
“The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority is assisting St. Bernard Parish with flood fighting efforts in the Delacroix area,” Edwards said. “They are working to sandbag Highway 300 along the bayou and they’re actively pumping down the canals in the event the highway is overtopped.”
But the problems Louisiana has experienced are relatively minor compared to the danger Sally once posed.
“All in all, we’ll take the storm as she is rather than the one that was forecast a couple of days ago,” Edwards said.
Two flood water pumps are stationed in Grand Isle, where water is expected to come in from the island’s northern wetlands, and nine more pumps are staged nearby should they be needed, Edwards said. More than 400 of the state’s floodgates have been closed in preparation for Hurricane Sally’s storm surge as of Tuesday, up from just shy of 300 Monday, Edwards said.
The state’s no-cost COVID-19 testing has been paused in certain areas pending Sally’s arrival, but Edwards said officials plan to resume testing later this week.
Edwards also pointed out that a small increase in COVID-19-related hospitalizations across the state Tuesday could be the first signs of a post-Labor Day COVID-19 spike, though he added that a one-day increase does not make a trend.
“That’s the first time in two weeks we’ve had an increase in the number of people hospitalized, although it was a very small increase of three,” he said.
“Obviously, we’re concerned about that because we’re getting close to the two weeks after Labor Day activities, and we’re hopeful we don't see the kind of surge that we saw after Memorial Day.”.
With roughly 18,000 Louisianan’s in shelters after Hurricane Laura and about 5,300 of those sheltering in Texas, Edwards encouraged anyone whose house was not damaged by Laura’s impact and had running water and electricity to return to their home and allow officials to consolidate sheltering resources as recovery efforts continue in the Lake Charles area.
“Anyone not eligible for continued sheltering and who can return home, meaning they don’t have major damages to their home and basic services like water and sewer have been restored, they are being asked to do that, to come back to Louisiana at this point,” he said.
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