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Gov. John Bel Edwards, center, waits for Tangipahoa Parish leaders to take their seats for a Hurrican Ida status conference meeting Thursday Sept. 2, 2021, in Amite City, La. Major General Keith Waddell, Adjutant General for the Louisiana National Guard, is at right. Gov. John Bel Edwards visits the parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, and Tangipahoa during an aerial tour to assess Hurricane Ida damages and meet with local officials.

Tangipahoa Parish officials are pleading with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to speed up delivery of resources as huge swaths of the parish remain without power and propane almost two weeks after Hurricane Ida devastated Southeast Louisiana.

While power returned for thousands of residents since Monday — when some 70% of the parish was off the grid — 37% of Tangipahoa businesses and homes still didn't have electricity Thursday, officials said. Delivery of propane to rural communities who rely on fuel to power basic necessities has hit snags, too, with delivery workers triaging shipments to people with health conditions and the elderly.

"The (FEMA workers) that are here are working hard, but there aren't nearly enough," said Dawson Primes, the parish's emergency director. "We're pushing hard every day to have FEMA send more people to help our residents recover."

Tangipahoa Parish was among the hardest-hit parts of South Louisiana by Hurricane Ida's 100-plus mph winds and storm surge that swept in from Lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain. Gas, power and water access have ranged from spotty to nonexistent for much of the parish since the hurricane tore through on Aug. 30. 

A mobile disaster recovery center the parish government requested from FEMA will take up to 30 days to arrive in the parish, the federal agency has communicated.

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"That's unacceptable, and we're asking them to shorten that timeline," Primes said Thursday.

Still, glimmers of hope for the hard-hit parish's recovery have emerged in the past several days. The Village of Tangipahoa got power back at its city hall earlier in the week. A "huge win" came when a bulk propane plant in Kentwood regained power this week, said Primes, which will allow propane distributors to remain in the parish when filling orders.

"There are still a lot of people hurting and suffering. Still, we've made great strides," said Primes.

The emergency director urged residents to call the parish's emergency operations hotline at (985) 748-3211 if they need help in an emergency.

He stressed that the hotline does not circumvent utility companies' call numbers for residents seeking help with power, water and gas restoration.


James Finn writes for The Advocate as a Report For America corps member. Email him at JFinn@theadvocate.com or follow him on Twitter @RJamesFinn.

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