Louisiana, still broken by Hurricane Ida, prepares for Tropical Storm Nicholas
Louisiana, still broken from Hurricanes Ida last month and Hurricane Laura last year, is now in the path of Tropical Storm Nicholas that could dump up to 10 inches of rain on the state.
Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a state of emergency and requested a federal pre-landfall declaration from President Biden as Nicholas was expected to make landfall in eastern Texas overnight Monday and move through Louisiana as a tropical depression.
"I know bracing for another storm is not position we wanted to be in, but it is a situation we are prepared for," Edwards said during a Monday afternoon press conference.
"We have areas very vulnerable to Nicholas because of ongoing recovery efforts in southeastern Louisiana from Hurricane Ida and in southwestern Louisiana from Hurricane Laura," he said. "Life-threatening rainfall (flooding) is the primary concern."
Edwards said the Louisiana National Guard is staging 80 high water vehicles, 23 boats and 15 aircraft in preparation for Nicholas, while the Louisiana fire marshal has 30 boats staged in Lafayette and could increase that number to 78 boats if needed.
Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Department agents are also staging assets for Nicholas.
"One of things we have to guard against is dismissing the threat of this storm because it's not projected to reach hurricane strength," Edwards said.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Ida's Louisiana death toll rose to 28 Monday as the Louisiana Department of Health reported that a 69-year-old East Baton Rouge Parish man and an 85-year-old East Baton Rouge Parish woman. Both deaths were heat-related.
As of Monday, more than 119,000 homes and businesses remained without power from Hurricane Ida, though that's down from more than 1 million immediately after the storm.
Edwards warned that Tropical Storm Nicholas could hamper ongoing power restoration.
Spaghetti models: Track Nicholas here
"It's possible power restoration efforts could be slowed and some previously restored power lost" depending on Nicholas' impact, Edwards said.
Edwards said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved 277,000 individual disaster assistance applications from Hurricane Ida and issued more than $300 million. Almost 600,000 have registered for FEMA assitance.
He said 1,425 Hurricane Ida survivors remain in 18 shelters, while about 30,000 survivors are being house in hotels paid for by FEMA.
Greg Hilburn covers Louisiana politics for the USA Today Network. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.