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Public health emergency in Louisiana, yes, but also more cleanup

September 04, 2012|By Michael Muskal
  • A swimming nutria. Officials estimate nearly 16,000 nutria carcasses washed ashore along the coast.
A swimming nutria. Officials estimate nearly 16,000 nutria carcasses… (Christine und Hagen Graf…)

Helped by a declaration of a statewide health emergency, Louisiana officials pressed forward Tuesday with their cleanup from last week’s Hurricane Isaac. They also reported that electrical power had been substantially restored throughout the state.

A spokesperson for the state’s unified command group estimated that 95% of all electrical power had been returned. Officials at the utility Entergy placed the number of customers without power at 56,807. Some flooding was still reported from the storm, which made landfall a week ago, on Aug. 28.

On Monday, Gov. Bobby Jindal formally declared a statewide public health emergency -- a move that allows government workers to enter private property and remove debris.

PHOTOS: Tropical Storm Isaac

In the announcement, Jindal noted that 200 advisories to boil water had been issued and that more than 40% of electrical power had been lost for extended periods of time.

The health emergency will last until Oct. 3, though it can be ended sooner if the cleanup progresses well, officials said.

Meanwhile, officials in Hancock County, Miss., were removing the bodies of 15,000 to 16,000 nutria killed by the storm. Workers in hazardous material suits were loading the bodies of the water-borne rodents for removal to a local landfill, Brian Adam of the Emergency Management Agency said by telephone.

The cleanup is being done by a private contractor, and officials hope it will be completed in one to two weeks, he said. The nutria washed up on some local beaches from the marshy areas where they normally live.

With the cleanup well under way, officials at the National Hurricane Center reported that a new tropical storm named Michael had formed in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. The storm, some 1,200 miles southwest of the Azores, is expected to remain away from land.

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michael.muskal@latimes.com

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