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Hurricane Ida Disrupts Fall Election Plans in Louisiana

September 10, 2021 by Dan McCue
A mule pulling a carriage ambles through the heart of the French Quarter in hurricane-tossed New Orleans on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. With nearly all the power back on in New Orleans nearly two weeks after Ida stuck, the city is showing signs of making a comeback from the Category 4 killer. (AP Photo/Stacey Plaisance)

BATON ROUGE, La. – Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an executive order on Thursday delaying the state’s fall elections from Oct. 9 to Nov. 13 in response to damage caused by Hurricane Ida. 

Nov. 13 was the date originally scheduled for any runoff elections. Under the new schedule, any runoff elections will now be held on Dec. 11.

The decision came after a meeting Tuesday between the governor and Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin.

Ardoin said with a number of election-related deadlines looming, including voter registration deadlines, the only prudent course of action was to shift the dates of the elections.

“A number of issues stemming from Hurricane Ida’s devastation, including questions about nursing home operations, postal service delivery, extensive power outages, polling location damages, and election commissioners and staff members still displaced, would make holding the election on its original dates virtually impossible without impairing the integrity of the election,” Aardoin said.

Louisiana’s fall ballot includes three special state legislative elections, municipal elections in New Orleans, four constitutional amendments, and several local ballot initiatives.

Meanwhile, as far as the recovery from Hurricane Ida goes, almost all the power is now back on in New Orleans, two weeks after the storm struck.

The hurricane has been blamed for more than two dozen deaths in the states, and thousands living outside the state’s cities are continuing to struggle without electricity and water.

“It is not lost on anybody here at the state level and certainly not on our local partners just how many people continue to suffer,” Gov. Edwards said Thursday. “While things are getting better and we can be thankful for that … this is going to be a very long-term recovery.”

Where things are improving, businesses are reopening daily, gasoline is becoming easier to find and many roads are lined with huge debris piles from cleanup work.

Power crews reached a “major milestone” in the New Orleans area by restoring electricity to the vast majority of customers, Phillip May, chief executive of the state’s largest power provider, Entergy Louisiana, said in a conference call with reporters Thursday. 

About 201,000 of Entergy’s 205,000 customers in the city, or 98% percent, now have power, the company said, and those that don’t had more severe damage.

But more than 270,000 homes and businesses remained without power, according to the Louisiana Public Service Commission. 

The state’s health care network also continues to struggle. Executives of Ochsner Health System, Louisiana’s largest care provider, estimate it will take about four weeks to get two of its damaged hospitals fully operational.

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