President Biden Declares Emergency in Louisiana, Authorizes Federal Aid for Seawater Intrusion Crisis

Published 5:53 pm Friday, September 29, 2023

President Biden has declared a state of emergency in Louisiana, recognizing the urgent need for federal assistance to augment state and local response efforts. The crisis stems from the critical seawater intrusion problem that began on September 20, 2023, and poses significant challenges.

The President’s directive empowers the Department of Homeland Security, specifically the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate a comprehensive disaster relief strategy. The primary objective is to alleviate the distress and adversity the local population faces due to the emergency conditions. This includes providing essential aid for emergency measures sanctioned under Title V of the Stafford Act, aimed at saving lives, safeguarding property and public health, and minimizing or averting the threat of a catastrophe in the parishes of Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, and St. Bernard.

FEMA is granted the authority to identify, mobilize, and allocate necessary equipment and resources to mitigate the impact of the ongoing emergency. This encompasses emergency protective measures and direct federal assistance through the Public Assistance program, focused on temporary solutions to address the reduced water treatment capability resulting from saltwater intrusion due to low water levels of the Mississippi River. The federal assistance, limited to the next 90 days from the date of the declaration, will be funded at 75 percent by the Federal government.

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In response to the declared emergency, Mr. Benjamin Abbott of FEMA has been designated to spearhead and coordinate the Federal recovery operations in the affected regions. This proactive approach aims to streamline efforts and ensure a swift and effective response to the pressing crisis.