Interview: Congressman Garret Graves encourages community efforts after Hurricane Ida
BATON ROUGE - While residents of Louisiana were adjusting to a COVID resurgence, Hurricane Ida delivered yet another direct hit to day-to-day living in the Gulf Coast state.
From shuttered businesses that await power restoration to lengthy school closures, the region is operating under strained conditions as nearly 44% of the state's utility customers wait for energy companies to restore electricity.
On top of the outage crisis is a lack of access to fuel.
In response to this latter issue, Louisiana Congressman Garret Graves requested immediate federal assistance to relieve fuel supply shortages in Louisiana.
We are calling for immediate assistance to relieve fuel supply shortages in Louisiana. pic.twitter.com/NNMacgucA2— Rep. Garret Graves (@RepGarretGraves) September 2, 2021
Graves discussed this request and other information related to Hurricane Ida during a Thursday morning in-studio interview with WBRZ.
He toured some of the areas that were hit hardest by Ida and spoke of what he learned, saying, “We talked to a woman who has an oxygen machine, she doesn’t have electricity and she needs a new tank every four hours. I mean, these are big, huge tanks. How many cases just like that are there across the state?”
President Joe Biden is expected to make his way to Louisiana Friday and assess some of the region's most damaged areas.
When asked what Graves plans to make a priority as he speaks with President Biden, the Congressman replied, "The main message is to really try to convey to them how bad it is. I think a lot of the focus has been perhaps on New Orleans, which for certain lost power but didn't have the catastrophic destruction of wind damage and flooding that other areas did."
He continued, "So, really trying to convey to him how bad it is, the fact that essential services like cell phone, water, waste water, and electricity is out across many of these areas and as we've discussed in the past I'm really concerned this is going to continue to unfold."
Graves also pointed out that the hurricane highlights the need for changes to certain aspects of Louisiana's infrastructure.
"We can't keep building things back the way they were before, we've got to learn from past failures and successes," Graves said.
He went on to say the priority right now is to round up community volunteers in a boots-on-the-ground method so they can make sure their neighbor's immediate needs, such as food and water, are supplied.
In this regard, Graves said he and his team are speaking with Entergy, Demco, and AT&T representatives to stay current on the progress that's being made in restoring cell service and power to the region.
He concluded by reiterating the importance of community involvement and supplying people with their most immediate necessities.
"Those fundamental needs are where we’re focused right now,” Graves said.
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