Jindal: Gustav Now an Official "Major Disaster"

PoliticsDefenseRegional AuthorityNational SecurityHurricanes and Tropical Storms

      BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Gov. Bobby Jindal on Tuesday said he's
won two promises from the federal government that will ease
Louisiana's hurricane recovery: funding for residents and the
opening of the strategic oil reserve.
      Jindal said the White House approved his request that Hurricane
Gustav be declared a "major disaster," allowing residents of 34
parishes to receive federal funding for housing and recovery. The
funding, from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, could
include money for home repair, temporary housing and other recovery
costs.
      "Obviously we hope that brings some relief, some comfort,"
Jindal said.
      Jindal hopes the opening of the oil reserve helps reverse a
severe shortage of fuel, particularly in south Louisiana. Long
lines at gas stations have formed in many areas hit by the storm,
because many don't have electricity and can't pump.
      The action will release 250,000 barrels of oil to a Citgo
refinery in Lake Charles.
      Jindal made the announcements after a daylong aerial tour of the
region where the Category 2 storm hit Monday.
      Jindal had stops in Franklin, Morgan City and Houma, north of
where the storm made landfall. The towns were virtually empty, due
to evacuation orders, and Jindal met with local officials to hear
about the lack of electricity, smashed roofs and toppled trees that
litter the area.
      Some officials said the area was lucky that the storm surge only
flooded low-lying coastal areas that are not protected by federal
levees.
      "Thank God, it didn't push the water farther in," said state
Rep. Gordon Dove, D-Houma.
      A big casualty in St. Mary and elsewhere was the sugar cane
crop. Agriculture officials say the storm has ruined up to half of
this year's cane crop, normally worth $600 million annually in
Louisiana.
      Jindal also stopped at the barrier island Grand Isle, which was
swamped with 9 feet of floodwater during Gustav. He said he was
pleased that all but five of the town's 1,500 residents evacuated,
rather than ride out the storm. Jindal congratulated firefighter
Joel Bradberry and others for getting out of the storm's path.
      "I'm glad you got out," Jindal told Bradberry. "You were
right to evacuate a storm like this."
      Also on the trip were Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, Agriculture
Commissioner Mike Strain and Michael Chertoff, chief of the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security.
      Jindal ended the trip with a visit at New Orleans City Hall with
Mayor Ray Nagin. Nagin said after the meeting that he, Jindal and
Chertoff discussed the city's need for the resumption of
electricity service.
      

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