‘A lot of people prayed’: La. governor tours Barry’s damage, praises response

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Louisiana’s governor is praising his state’s response to former Hurricane Barry, while pledging a swift recovery for affected spots.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said damage assessments will start this week across the state. Many post-storm examinations will focus on Plaquemines, Terrebonne and St. Mary parishes — where the governor traveled Monday by helicopter and boat.

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While Edwards’ trip centered largely on damage, emergency managers voiced gratitude over troubles avoided. Barry was weaker than forecast, allowing Plaquemines Parish’s prime north-south highway to stay open. The storm did not cause any Louisiana levees to breach.

“We were expecting 20 inches of rain,” Edwards told reporters in Terrebonne Parish. “But I know we’re a faithful people. I happen to know a lot of people prayed.”

Louisiana Lieutenant Gov. Billy Nungesser, a former Plaquemines Parish president, discusses post-storm efforts with Chip Kline, who chairs the state’s coastal protection agency. (PHOTO: Harrison Golden/BRProud.com)

No deaths have been reported from the storm. The governor credits parish, state and federal leaders for their search-and-rescue efforts — and for their precautions. More than 900,000 sandbags were distributed before the storm’s landfall, which Edwards called a state record.

“We are in better shape today than we have ever been to take a storm,” he said.

But the governor added Monday that the state was still feeling the storm’s immediate effects. Rain accumulations caused levees to overtop. Wind-related storm surges exceeded nine feet in Terrebonne Parish, beyond predictions of four to six feet. The totals could compromise the infrastructure’s strength, if unattended, though crews plan to examine the levees’ conditions over the next few days.

Thousands have begun the week without power; flash flood watches had remained in tact, as homes along Louisiana’s coast were still meeting standing water. Rescue missions are set to continue in parts of the state this week.

Gov. John Bel Edwards shakes hands with government leaders in Plaquemines Parish, La. (PHOTO: Harrison Golden/BRProud.com)

“Obviously, we still have a lot of work to do,” Edwards told BRProud.com’s Harrison Golden. “We’ve got to inspect the levees. We’re going to sit down and make sure we do a comprehensive review.”

Emergency managers urge that measures taken for Barry show Louisiana is ready, should another storm hit the state’s shore.

“We’ve got to finish this storm and turn around to the next,” Edwards said, “because it’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when.”

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