Gov. Edwards Travels to DC to Request Urgent Federal Relief Assistance

James “Buck” McCaa
September 20, 2021
Diocese reopens six schools so far; sets plans for remaining schools
September 20, 2021

Governor John Bel Edwards is traveling to Washington, D.C. today to meet with Louisiana’s Congressional Delegation, as well as other members of Congress to impress upon them the urgent need for federal assistance to ensure a speedy, full, and robust recovery for the people of Southwest and Southeast Louisiana who have been devastated by major hurricanes and natural disasters over the last year.  Gov. Edwards has provided a letter detailing the vast damage caused by a damaging freeze, spring flooding, and Hurricane Ida this year, as well as Hurricanes Laura, Delta, and Zeta in 2020.

The letter said that at beginning of this year, portions of the state suffered from a damaging freeze with spring flooding then shortly after Hurricane Ida devastated the southeastern parishes.  Not only has Louisiana survived these natural disasters, but also fought a pandemic that has sickened and killed thousands of citizens and hindered economic growth. Gov. Edwards said there is an urgent need to provide immediate relief to Louisiana families, businesses and individuals who have been impacted, and he said the help of the federal government is absolutely critical.

“Hurricane Ida made landfall on August 29, 2021, 16 years following Hurricane Katrina, as a strong Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 150 mph near landfall,” the letter said. “Hurricane Ida caused widespread power outages across the impacted area with over one million outages as well as water outages affecting over one million citizens. Twenty-nine fatalities have been associated with the storm and almost 1,000 people remain in shelters at this time and thousands of others living in very difficult circumstances. Currently, there are more than 9,000 households in the FEMA Temporary Shelter Assistance program sheltering more than 26,000 households.”

The letter stated that while no two disasters are the same, it is a safe assumption that unmet housing needs for Ida will be well over $2.5 billion based on historical damages from similar events. The current estimate for Public Assistance for the disaster is $2.2 billion, which will require state and local governments to pay $226 million just to cover the non-federal share of these grants, a cost that has in the past been covered with CDBG-DR.

“Using FEMA’s data for Individual Assistance for Laura/Delta/Zeta,” the letter reads, “and taking insurance and other available funding sources into account, we estimate the unmet housing needs of renters and homeowners to be over $900 million.” In addition, the burden on state and local governments to pay the match on FEMA’s Public Assistance grants from these storms will be more than $130 million. There is also an estimated loss to businesses of $2 billion, along with crop and timber losses of over $2 billion.  Gov. Edwards is requesting both funding and legislative actions including:

  • Expansion of Direct Repair Authority under Individual Assistance 
  • Resetting FEMA authority to grant funding to states to implement housing programs
  • Flexibility in Match for Public Assistance 
  • Extension of Disaster Recovery Reform Act Duplication of Benefit Flexibility 
  • Extension of Disaster Recovery Reform Act Relief from Excessive Reductions Based upon Flood Insurance for Campuses
  • Allowance for HUD to waive the current federal site-specific Environment Review Requirement for single family home rehabilitation

Click here to read the full letter.

The Governor will return to Louisiana on Thursday.