Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Tuesday that Hurricane Laura was probably worse than Hurricane Rita 15 years ago, apologizing to anyone who thought he had diminished the impact of the storm that slammed into the Cameron coast with 150 mph winds. “It was never my intention to convey the damage was anything other than horrific,” said
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Tuesday that Hurricane Laura was probably worse than Hurricane Rita 15 years ago, apologizing to anyone who thought he had diminished the impact of the storm that slammed into the Cameron coast with 150 mph winds.
“It was never my intention to convey the damage was anything other than horrific,” said Edwards, who had apparently received some negative feedback. “It was every bit as bad as (Hurricane Rita in 2005) and probably worse where it struck; very catastrophic.”
Edwards also said Laura cut a wider swath of damage than Rita, which was evident by Ouachita Parish in northeastern Louisiana becoming one of three more parishes eligible for FEMA help as 600,000 Louisianans remained without clean water.
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While energy companies continued to whittle away slowly at reducing power outages — down to about 250,000 Tuesday from a high of 600,000 — 72 water systems still weren’t functioning as of Tuesday morning.
That leaves about 170,000 people with complete or partial water outages and another more than 400,000 whose water is under a boil advisory. In the worst hit areas of southwestern Louisiana, including the epicenter of Lake Charles, electricity and water could still be weeks away.
Entergy Louisiana President Phillip May along with local and state government officials will discuss the restoration plan for Calcasieu and Cameron parishes on Wednesday in Sulphur.
The company said May will describe the catastrophic damage the company’s electrical grid suffered as a result of Hurricane Laura and what will be done to fully restore power to the region during a press conference.
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Meanwhile, Acadiana parishes Acadia and Vermilion and Ouachita joined six others made eligible for aid under President Donald Trump’s major disaster declaration.
Edwards encouraged everyone impacted in Acadia, Allen, Beauregard, Vernon, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis, Ouachita and Vermilion to apply for the help.
“Please register for FEMA assistance as soon as you can,” said Edwards, who requested the declaration for 23 parishes. “If you’re in the other 14 parishes please know we’re continuing to advocate for you.”
The governor said he intends to return to Lake Charles on Wednesday and travel to Allen, Beauregard, Jefferson Davis and Vernon parishes on Thursday.
Louisiana’s Hurricane Laura death toll remained at 15 Tuesday.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1