Louisiana leaders met with the newly minted head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday to discuss the threat of severe weather as the state braces for the peak of hurricane season.
"We're particularly worried about the remainder of this hurricane season," Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a news conference after a closed-to-media meeting with FEMA administrator Brock Long. "We know that there are a lot of improvements that we can continue to make in the aftermath of disasters — but there are also ways that we can prepare for (disasters)."
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Edwards, Long, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and other emergency response leaders took part in "table top" drills for emergency scenarios during the meeting, which took place at the Governor's Mansion in Baton Rouge.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30 but is generally more active from mid-August to late October.
"As we come into the heart of hurricane season, it's important for everyone in the state of Louisiana and importantly in the city of New Orleans to fully understand the hazards that you face," said Long, who has been on the job at the forefront of the nation's disaster response since his U.S. Senate confirmation in June. "Not only do you need to understand that vulnerability but what actions you need to take."
Long and Edwards have been in regular contact over the past two months on issues related to hurricane preparation, as well as the state's ongoing recovery from historic floods last year.
"FEMA, under my leadership, is going to constantly try to work to streamline recovery and reduce complexity as much as we can," Long said of his approach to leading the federal agency.
Tuesday's meeting came as forecasters predicted the remnants of Tropical Storm Harvey could gain a resurgence in the Gulf of Mexico as it heads toward Texas.
"We don't know yet how widespread the rain bands will be and the different wind effects will be," said Edwards, a Democrat who took office in January 2016.
Edwards said his administration is monitoring the storm, and the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparation will establish a crisis team Wednesday.
Chief among the issues the state faces is the potential for flooding as New Orleans works to restore pumps and power turbines that drive the city's drainage system. Edwards and Landrieu said they are keeping close tabs as the city's drainage capacity is restored.
"Every day, the city's capacity is increasing," Edwards said. "There's no reason for the people of New Orleans to be panicked at all."