BATON ROUGE, La. (KTVE/KTAL) – Gov. John Bel Edwards held a press briefing Tuesday afternoon as Louisiana braces for yet another hurricane.
Hurricane Zeta made landfall Monday evening on the peninsula just north of Tulum as a Category 1 storm Monday evening with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph. As expected, it weakened to a tropical storm after landfall and has continued to weaken as it moves over land, but it is expected to become a hurricane again later Tuesday when it starts moving over the Gulf of Mexico.
The storm system is also expected to speed up as it makes its way towards land, meaning it should move through Louisiana rather quickly. Damaging winds are expected to be the biggest threat, but there is still some concern when it comes to storm surge. Edwards said that tornadoes also pose an isolated threat.
Edwards also announced Tuesday that he has sent a pre-landfall disaster declaration request to President Trump. The governor declared a state of emergency on Monday in advance of the storm.
When speaking about preparations, Gov. Edwards reiterated warnings about proper generator and space heater usage. He also urged residents to have their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors batteries checked and replaced if needed.
As preparations for Zeta are underway, recovery efforts from Laura and Delta are still ongoing. On Tuesday, FEMA extended the registration deadline for assistance until November 27, 2020. To apply for assistance, go to disasterassistance.gov. Edwards also announced that residents in 14 parishes who were approved for D-SNAP benefits following Laura and that lost food due to Delta can now apply for replacement D-SNAP benefits. These benefits will replace 45% of what was lost. The deadline to register for these replacement benefits is November 9, 2020. For more information on D-SNAP replacement benefits, visit dcfs.la.gov.
Gov. Edwards also spoke briefly on COVID-19 during his Tuesday briefing.
Louisiana has reported 885 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and 18 more deaths since Monday, bringing the cumulative number of cases statewide to 180,991 and total deaths to 5,666. Edwards said that Louisiana has been able to reach and maintain a plateau when it comes to COVID-19 thanks to the mitigation measures that have been put into place.
Before taking questions from the press, Gov. Edwards spoke about the retirement of Louisiana State Police Superintendent Colonel Kevin Reeves announced earlier Tuesday.
The head of the Louisiana State Police will retire from the job at the end of the month, amid ongoing questions about the death of a Black man in the law enforcement agency’s custody and the secrecy around the encounter that is now subject to a federal civil rights investigation.
The governor’s comments did not mention the death of Ronald Greene, a 49-year-old barber, which had sparked protests, loud criticism of the state police and calls for Reeves’ resignation.
According to Edwards, the retirement will take effect on Friday, October 31, 2020, and of right now there is no set timeline to name a replacement.
Governor Edwards will be at the GOHSEP headquarters starting Wednesday morning and is expected to hold another press briefing at 3 p.m.