News for Wednesday 020817
By Dave Graichen
Governor John Bel Edwards has declared yet another state of emergency in the Bayou State, as his office says at least 7 tornadoes touched down in 6 parishes on Tuesday. New Orleans East sustained the most damage, after a massive twister moved through the Crescent City around 11 a.m. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu says they were extremely lucky there was no loss of life. The Governor’s Office estimates at least 20 people in southeast Louisiana sustained injuries, but no deaths were reported as a result of the twisters. Officials say three of the injuries took place in Ascension Parish and another two in Livingston.
About 10-thousand people remain without power in the New Orleans area and Entergy says it could be three to five days before power is restored. The Louisiana National Guard has been called into the area to help prevent looting.
The National Weather Service is working to confirm exactly how many tornadoes touched down in Louisiana and how much damage they caused. Slidell forecaster Mike Efferson says their preliminary estimates are that 60 homes were damaged by a twister in New Orleans. He says they believe it was at least an EF2. Efferson says other twisters touched down in Ascension and St. James parishes, as well as two tornadoes in Livingston Parish. He says one of the twisters went from Killian in Livingston Parish to Madisonville in St. Tammany Parish.
The APD reports the arrest of an Alexandria man after he allegedly robbed a school employee and her young child early Monday morning at Rosenthal Montessori Elementary School on Monroe Street. The victim had been walking from the school's parking lot to the building with her 4-year-old when a man approached and drew a gun, demanding her bag. The man took the bag, shoving the woman and her child to the ground before running away. A short time later, police arrested 23 year old John Matthews Jr. He was charged with two counts of armed robbery, possession of a firearm by a felon, illegal carrying of a firearm in a school zone and resisting an officer.
Officials with Louisiana College held a press conference yesterday to announce the school’s nursing program is expected to be placed on "conditional approval" status by the Louisiana Board of Nursing after passing rates dropped below what's required by the state. Since being notified of the passage rates, officials at the college have been in contact with the state board about remedying factors that potentially led to that. The school's dean Marilyn Cooksey says they have some strategies in place to improve the scores.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agent Tyler Wheeler, who was shot in early January near Monroe, is walking a half-mile daily on a treadmill and is due to finish his rehab in Mississippi and return to Monroe this weekend. Wheeler is expected to return to Shreveport’s University Health at some point for additional treatments. While making what is believed to be a routine traffic stop for a possible impaired driver check, Wheeler was shot five times early Jan. 7
A public meeting will be held tonight in Assumption Parish on the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline, which will need a permit from the Department of Natural Resources. The 163-mile oil pipeline would run from Lake Charles through the Atchafalaya Basin to St. James Parish. Anne Rolfes with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade says Energy Transfer Partners is one of the companies involved in the pipeline and they’ve had 35 pipeline accidents in two years.
Supporters of the project say it will create jobs and that moving oil through a pipeline is safer than other transportation means like trains and trucks.
Governor John Bel Edwards travels to Washington D.C. today to push Congress for more federal flood aid. This is the governor’s 6th trip to the nation’s capital since the August flood. Edwards says we’ve received 1.6 billion dollars in grant money so far but another two billion is necessary to get victims back in their homes. Edwards says he will meet with all members of the Louisiana Congressional delegation today to discuss his ideas.
The U.S. Senate has confirmed Betsy DeVos as the U.S Education Secretary. The Louisiana Federtion of Teachers says DeVos lacks experience as an educator. L-F-T spokesperson Les Landon says they would prefer an Education Secretary who is a strong supporter of public schools. But the president of the Louisiana Federation for Children, Ann Duplessis, says DeVos will look to provide educational opportunities for all children, regardless of income.
Both of Louisiana’s U-S Senators, John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy, voted to confirm DeVos.
Lawmakers are looking over the Governor’s proposal to eliminate a $304 million midyear deficit, ahead of next week’s special session to debate the plan. Statewide elected officials would see budget reductions, but higher education would be spared. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris says it’s important no stone is left unturned when it comes to spending reductions, but he doesn’t want students to be impacted again. The governor’s plan also includes using $119 million in the rainy day fund to minimize cuts to state agencies.
FEMA has released new recovery numbers on flood relief and indicates that about $4.7 billion dollars in disaster assistance has moved through the state following the devastating August event.
Superstar actress Annette Bening has been cast to play former Governor Kathleen Blanco in the next American Crime Story which will be about Hurricane Katrina. Producers say the next installment of the Emmy award winning franchise will air in 2018.