A damaged home is seen after Hurricane Laura passed through the area on August 27, 2020 in Lake Charles, Louisiana . The hurricane hit with powerful winds causing extensive damage to the city. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Louisiana still needs billions of dollars to house displaced residents after Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Ida — the two worst hurricanes in the state’s recorded history – decimated South Louisiana nearly a calendar year apart, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Friday after a meeting with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Southwest Louisiana still needs about $1.5 billion to meet housing needs for residents displaced by Hurricanes Laura and Delta. “With Ida, we know it’s going to be more than that,” Edwards said.
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Over 650,000 Louisianians have already filed FEMA claims following Ida, which struck Southeast Louisiana, and the governor estimated that Louisiana is “on the way” to over 800,000 claims.”
“We have tremendous unmet housing needs in Louisiana,” Edwards said.
Speaking from the New Orleans East Hospital, which was destroyed after Hurricane Katrina and rebuilt, Edwards said hospitals in Terrebonne and St. Charles parishes that were destroyed by Ida will be built back better, so they can better withstand the next major storm.
“We’re not just going to build back to the standard of what we have, we’re going to do better, so that people are better served by that,” he said.
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Edwards calls on more Louisianians to get the vaccine
Edwards also addressed the state’s COVID-19 cases, saying Louisiana remains vulnerable to another surge in cases and hospitalizations “so long as we have too few people vaccinated.”
About 44 percent of Louisiana residents are fully vaccinated — the ninth lowest vaccination rate in the country among states and Washington D.C.
“We had the fourth surge precisely because we have a delta variant that was more transmissible that hit us when we had too few people who were vaccinated,” he said.
While 29 Louisiana residents died due to Hurricane Ida, 1,059 Louisiana residents died in that same time frame due to COVID-19, Edwards said.
“These deaths are preventable. 88 percent of our cases today and 80 percent of our hospitalizations — are among unvaccinated — as well as 85 percent of our deaths,” he said.
Of the 2.4 million Louisianians that have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine — nine had severe adverse reactions, none of which were fatal, Edwards said.
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