WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) today delivered a speech on the Senate floor on severe flooding in Lake Charles, Baton Rouge and other areas in South Louisiana.
“I rise today to bring attention to south Louisiana. Heavy rains hammered our communities, there’s a State of Emergency across the area with more rain expected,” said Dr. Cassidy. “The number of homes and businesses that flooded in both Lake Charles and Baton Rouge is not known at the moment. We will continue to hear distressing and saddening stories about the loss of both life and property throughout south Louisiana in the coming days… But Americans are at our best when we help those in need. And folks in Louisiana are resilient.”
During the speech, Cassidy emphasized the need for a disaster supplement – legislation to help Louisiana communities recover from last year’s natural disasters including a record year for hurricanes.
“While some outside of our state have already forgotten about the natural disasters of 2020, Louisiana has not, many have yet to return to their homes,” said Dr. Cassidy. “We cannot afford to allow the impact of an entire years’ worth of natural disasters to go unaddressed.”
Cassidy’s full speech as prepared for delivery can be found below:
I rise today to bring attention to south Louisiana. Heavy rains hammered our communities, there’s a State of Emergency across the area with more rain expected in the coming days.
It has been a difficult couple of years – pandemic aside. Just eight months ago, Lake Charles was devastated by Hurricanes Delta and Laura. And yesterday, areas got anywhere from 8 to 15 inches of rain in 12 hours. It is utterly heartbreaking to see Lake Charles hit again by a natural disaster.
Often floods and disasters in parts of the country other than the west and east coasts get overlooked. We cannot ignore the pain and destruction left in the wake of these storms.
Overnight 80 people were rescued from the flash flooding in Lake Charles.
On top of the rain and submerged roads, there were warnings of possible tornadoes prompting shelter-in-place precautions, I’ve heard from constituents that students were kept in school until late into the night.
It’s not just Lake Charles; Baton Rouge flooded as well.
In Baton Rouge, more than 250 people were rescued after the city got a deluge of 13+ inches of rain on Monday night. This morning, at least 15,000 homes and businesses were without power in East Baton Rouge Parish.
The number of homes and businesses that flooded in both Lake Charles and Baton Rouge is not known at the moment.
We will continue to hear distressing and saddening stories about the loss of both life and property throughout south Louisiana in the coming days.
Through firsthand accounts, social media posts, and local news coverage we’ve already heard emotional stories. In Lake Charles, a resident and their newborn had to swim to safety as the water levels rose. In Baton Rouge, a body was found submerged in a vehicle stuck in a canal.
Water rescues and emergency evacuations have been underway for the past 24 hours.
But Americans are at our best when we help those in need. And folks in Louisiana are resilient. Thank you to all the brave men and women of local fire and police departments for their work in saving lives.
We will get through this together.
When I was in Lake Charles after the last storms, I picked up a bracelet that read Lake Charles Strong. We are Lake Charles Strong. We are Baton Rouge Strong. We are Louisiana Strong.
While some outside of our state have already forgotten about the natural disasters of 2020, Louisiana has not, many have yet to return to their homes.
Just two weeks ago, President Biden visited Lake Charles talking about infrastructure in front of the Calcasieu River Bridge. While in Louisiana, I raised the issue of a disaster relief package with the president. Our state was hit hurricanes and winter storms among other things. A record five named storms made landfall last year in Louisiana.
The strongest of which, Laura a category 4 hurricane, devastated Lake Charles and was followed by Hurricane Delta, a category 2 hurricane, just over a month later. Louisiana farmers were also hit with catastrophic damage to livestock, crops and structures during unprecedented winter storms.
We need a disaster supplemental. We need this legislation to help communities struggling to recover from natural disasters. We cannot afford to allow the impact of an entire years’ worth of natural disasters to go unaddressed.
Our best line of defense for these natural disasters is coastal resiliency, which in our state is funded through what is called GOMESA – that is revenue from offshore oil and gas development. GOMESA allows Louisiana to rebuild our coastline. For example, if a hurricane makes landfall there is resiliency from a coastline, which is built out with wetlands to absorb the strength of the storm. We need to preserve GOMESA so we can continue to have dollars flowing not just to Louisiana, but other Gulf states to protect against natural disasters.
It will be raining for the next few days. To those in South Louisiana, please stay safe, and listen to local officials for further instruction.
I will continue to monitor the situation and I will be there to help recovery efforts. My office is in contact with the White House to ensure the full support of the federal government is available to help our communities recover.
My prayers are with those experiencing flooding and other hardships as a result of these storms.
Thank you, I yield back.