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Transcript: Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards on "Face the Nation," August 29, 2021

Louisiana governor says Ida will be "tremendous test"
Louisiana governor says Ida will be "tremendo... 04:17

The following is a transcript of an interview with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards that aired on Sunday, August 29, 2021, on "Face the Nation."


ED O'KEEFE: But we want to go now to Governor John Bel Edwards, who is at the Louisiana governor's office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness in Baton Rouge. Governor, good morning to you. We've set the table, so give us a sense now. Is your state ready for this? And did enough of your residents get out of the way ahead of the storm?

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS: Well, ED, first of all, thank you very much. I'm happy to be on with you so I can speak to the state. Primarily, we'll know whether or not people evacuated. It appears that hundreds of thousands of people took the opportunity yesterday to leave, especially in those low-lying areas in southeast Louisiana along the coast. Those that are not protected by our much enhanced hurricane and storm risk reduction system, the one that you mentioned a while ago, where there's been about a $14 billion investment since Hurricane Katrina over the last 16 years, all of our modeling shows that that the most populous parts of southeast Louisiana inside that system are going to be protected from storm surge. We still have wind threat and rain threat as well. But it's really south along the coast. We think an awful lot of people did evacuate, but this is a very difficult storm. As you mentioned, it's going to come in with sustained winds of over 150 miles per hour when you get to a category five storm at 157. So, there's virtually no difference between a very, very strong cat four or a cat-five storm. And so, we're absolutely doing everything that we can now to- to get people to- to take those last-minute steps. But really, we asked people to make sure that when they went to bed last night, they were prepared to ride out the storm and that they would go to bed where they intended to ride out the storm.

ED O'KEEFE: So bottom line, that $14 billion levee system should hold.

GOV. EDWARDS: Yeah, well, that- that's all of our modeling shows that we feel very good about what's inside hurricane risk reduction system. We have lesser systems of protection built along the coast where the levees aren't as hot and they're not as fortified. And we're very concerned there. And this would be a tremendous test of those systems. And quite frankly, it's going to be the strongest test we've had yet for the current hurricane and storm risk reduction system itself.

ED O'KEEFE: Understood. Yeah. Let me- let me ask you, you know, your states, about 41% fully vaccinated from COVID-19. You have one of the highest hospitalization rates when it comes to the pandemic among states in the union. And most of the major hospitals weren't evacuating patients ahead of this storm. Are they going to be all right as this storm passes over?

GOV. EDWARDS: Well, this is going to be a real challenge to the good news is and it's- it's relative is that over the last 10 days, we've been able to reduce our net inpatient centers by about 500. Most of that in southeast Louisiana. So, we did create just a little bit of additional capacity. But evacuating these large hospitals is just not an option because there's not any other hospitals with the capacity to take them. Now, we were able to evacuate over 20 nursing homes, some rehab facilities and behavioral health facilities and those sorts of things. But when you think in terms of hospitals, it's just not possible. So we know that they have been working extremely hard. They all have generators. They all have the fuel on hand and- and the extra food and the things that they're going to need. But quite frankly, the wind, we expect, will cause power outages across much of southeast Louisiana. It's impossible today to say how long the power will be out. And that begins to test your systems,--

ED O'KEEFE: Sure.

GOV. EDWARDS: --whether it's the opportunity to deliver water to the hospitals. You can't run a ventilator without electricity. And I will tell you, our federal partners are leaning very far forward in terms of having additional generators in or out and so forth. This is a major, major storm that's going to test us in ways that we've not been tested before, for a lot of reasons. But- but this COVID situation is certainly one of them.

ED O'KEEFE: Sixteen years since Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Ida is on your doorstep, Governor Edwards, our best to you. I have a feeling we'll be talking again later in the day, later in the week here on CBS with you. We appreciate your time.

GOV. EDWARDS: Thank you, ED, and we invite the prayers of the country.

ED O'KEEFE: You've got mine for sure. FACE THE NATION will be right back.

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