Federal aid is insufficient for southwest Louisiana


LAKE CHARLES, Louisiana (AP) – Leaders in Southwest Louisiana say Congress-approved disaster assistance will be insufficient to address continuing housing crisis and other needs caused by Hurricane Laura , which hit the region over a year ago.

Billions of dollars in federal disaster assistance were included in legislation passed by Congress on Thursday, which also prevented a government shutdown.

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter told The American Press that the package includes $ 1.6 billion in disaster assistance to be split among states for all disasters in 2020, Southwestern Louisiana set to get $ 600 million for Laura and the Hurricane Delta follow-up shot.

“When you look at other singular hurricanes over the past 20 years and the billions of dollars that have flowed into these communities, 600 million dollars are crumbs,” he said.

The administration of Governor John Bel Edwards estimated the unmet need for Hurricanes Laura, Delta and Zeta at around $ 3 billion.

Calcasieu Parish Police Jury President Brian Abshire said in a statement that while the parish patiently awaited federal aid, “Washington’s policy has watered down the relief bill.”

“This welfare bill only makes federal politicians feel good, and it will do very little for the parish of Calcasieu,” he said. “We will continue to fight for what our residents need and, frankly, what our residents deserved a year ago.”

Housing needs alone for the 2020 hurricanes are estimated at $ 900 million.

“This ($ 600 million) will make a small dent in housing,” Hunter told the newspaper. “I’m grateful it’s something, but it’s really like a punch in the stomach. It gives you the impression that we are less American.

Hunter said there would be no more money left for economic revitalization and infrastructure, two major items needed to recover from a major natural disaster.

Since Laura roared ashore as a Category 4 storm in August 2020, Hunter and other locally elected officials have been asking for federal help for months.

“I’m pretty exasperated and exhausted from this whole process,” Hunter said. “I thought we would be a lot further along than we are.”

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