The visit of the president of the United States to southwestern Louisiana and southeast Texas was welcome, as was Donald Trump’s quick approval of emergency aid for the regions stricken by Hurricane Laura.
The aid will be needed.
Recovery will be a long time coming.
Gov. John Bel Edwards and other Louisiana officials thanked the president for his support, including major assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other arms of the U.S. government.
Still, as everyone in Louisiana is aware — Laura’s unwelcome visit conjured up memories of Hurricane Katrina 15 years ago almost to the day, and Rita in the same area weeks later — rebuilding and recovery is a long road ahead.
Massive damage to delivery of power was felt all the way north to the Arkansas line as Laura swooped through relatively quickly. Lack of water pressure forced evacuation of hospitals, jails and nursing homes. The high August heat made life miserable for those without power.
“We’re going to be working really, really hard on the power outages, on the water systems, on the housing,” Edwards said at a Sunday briefing for reporters. “But none of this is going to be easy. It’s not going to happen as quickly as most people would like for sure.”
Again, something that people in Louisiana are well aware of.
Laura was one for the record books: a Category 4 hurricane that made landfall just south of Lake Charles near Cameron. Before it abated nearly 12 hours later, it packed 150-mph winds and a storm surge that officials said was as high as 15 feet in some areas.
The storm caused major damage and power outages all the way through the Shreveport, Ruston and Monroe areas in north Louisiana.
More than a dozen deaths were attributed to Laura, with more than half of them killed by carbon monoxide poisoning from the unsafe operation of generators. That risk continues, as generators will be the power supply available for many homes and businesses for days to come.
Massive damage to even the biggest and sturdiest towers that carry power lines means long delays for some areas getting service back.
We welcome the attention of the president and the commitment of federal resources to rebuilding efforts, with blue tarps “like gold,” as one man said in Lake Charles But we have enough experience with hurricanes in Louisiana to know that repairs are one part of a longer-term recovery process.
Louisiana’s western parishes, from the Gulf of Mexico to Arkansas, will need help and support for months if not years to come.