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|Jindal says Ouachita will get federal help|
Gov. Bobby Jindal is confident President Bush will include Ouachita Parish among the Louisiana parishes that are in a state of disaster in the wake of Hurricane Gustav.
A news release from the governor's office on Tuesday listed parishes throughout the state that Bush declared were eligible for federal assistance.
Ouachita Parish currently is not eligible for any federal funding since it was not included on that list.
Until Bush designates Ouachita Parish a federal disaster area, local governments and non-profit agencies are not eligible to be reimbursed for providing shelter to evacuees and repairs from storm damage.
Jindal called on Bush to issue an emergency declaration for all 64 parishes.
"We've had a lot of damage and a lot of flooding," Jindal said "Tens of thousands of our people are in shelters."
"We've asked the president to amend his declaration," Jindal explained. "They have to look at the damage that's occurred here in northeast Louisiana. That declaration is key to opening up federal resources, and I'm confident we'll get it."
"There's a lot of damage in every corner of the state, especially in northeast Louisiana," Jindal said. "If you look at the flooding here, the downed trees, it's obvious to me that every one of these parishes needs to be included in the federal emergency declaration. It's obvious to anyone who has been here that the damage is severe enough to justify this declaration."
Jindal made those remarks Thursday at a briefing with the media at Ouachita Parish's emergency operations center on New Natchitoches Street in West Monroe. He flew to Ouachita to meet with local officials and to take a first-hand look at damages Hurricane Gustav caused in the area.
Earlier in the day, Jindal visited Alexandria. He reviewed damage assessments with officials in both central and north Louisiana during each visit.
He said a top priority in the recovery effort entailed getting power restored throughout the state. He said dozens of communities still do not have power.
"That means they don't have power for their lift stations, health care services and in some cases, drinkable water," Jindal said.
Two Baton Rouge Hospitals were evacuated Thursday because of a lack of power, Jindal said.
State officials have requested additional utility crews from throughout the country to help restore power in Louisiana.
Jindal commended northeast Louisiana for opening its doors for evacuees from all over the state. He knows there are numerous people in northeast Louisiana who provided shelter to evacuees and had to seek shelter themselves as their homes flooded late Tuesday.
"I want to thank the people of northeast Louisiana," Jindal said. "They opened their doors to others to come shelter here and be safe from the storm. But it continued up here and caused massive flooding. People are helping each other. Help is here and help will continue to come."
Jindal said state leaders have already communicated with federal officials about crop damages throughout the state. The state asked for federal assistance for farmers whose crops were damaged from Gustav, Jindal said.
"It could have been a good year for a lot of farmers," he explained. "A lot of them were anticipating good crops. I've flown over different parts of the state, and we have seen acre after acre of fields under water, and continuing to be inundated with water."