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Edwards requests federal emergency declaration for winter storm response

(The Center Square) – Gov. John Bel Edwards has requested a presidential emergency declaration in response to winter weather that has left at least three people dead and tens of thousands without electricity and water.

Requested federal assistance includes commodities and supplies to help the state deal with extended power outages.

“I spoke with President Biden on Tuesday about the severe impact this historic weather is having on Louisiana, and I am confident that working with our federal and local partners we can overcome these challenges, which are felt particularly hard in communities still recovering from hurricanes since last year,” Edwards said Wednesday night in a prepared statement.

The severe winter weather, including record low temperatures, snow, sleet and freezing rain, started on Feb. 11 and was followed by another round of storms beginning Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, 62,000 Louisiana households still did not have power, the governor’s office said. There were 36 water outages in 18 parishes and 178 boil water advisories throughout 39 parishes. More than 48,000 Louisianans did not have water, and more than 956,000 live in areas with boil water advisories, according to Edwards’ office.

Louisiana State Police were urging motorists Thursday morning to “please remain vigilant and exercise caution if you must travel on Louisiana roads.” Many roads, particularly in central and north Louisiana, still are considered impassable, police said.

David Jacobs, Staff Reporter for the Center Square, is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.