Calcasieu wants nearly $4 billion more in relief funds

Published 6:03 am Friday, October 22, 2021

Calcasieu Parish police jurors passed a resolution Thursday that calls on federal officials to boost the allocation of supplemental disaster relief for the 2020 disasters, including Hurricanes Laura and Delta, from $1.6 billion to $5 billion.

More than a year after Hurricane Laura’s devastation, Congress in late September approved $28.6 billion in disaster supplemental relief. However, Southwest Louisiana officials were disappointed and concerned the funding dispersed will fall far short of the region’s ongoing needs. Gov. John Bel Edwards has requested the federal government to provide $3 billion to fill the unmet needs in Louisiana after Hurricanes Laura, Delta and Zeta. The governor’s request didn’t include the February winter storm or the historic rainfall and flooding that impacted Lake Charles homes and businesses in May.

The Police Jury’s resolution asks the Department of Housing and Urban Development to dole out enough Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funding so that Southwest Louisiana can fully recover from last year’s hurricanes. It’s still unclear how much federal relief Louisiana will receive.

“It is critical that we continue to impress upon key decision-makers the enormous, unmet needs here in Calcasieu Parish more than a year after multiple disasters,” said Police Jury President Brian Abshire. “We know from experience that the opportunities are few and far between to obtain disaster aid, and we must take every opportunity to push for adequate, long-term recovery funding for the people of Calcasieu Parish.”

The resolution also asks HUD to consider the long-term community recovery plan that Calcasieu police jurors approved in August as proof of the need for more supplemental funding.

“The plan also means these dollars already have a steady course to be spent on high priorities in the community,” said Alberto Galan with the office of parish administrator.

Galan said the resolution also asks HUD to provide flexibility so that local government agencies can spend the disaster supplemental funding effectively and efficiently. Providing adequate housing and infrastructure remain two top lingering post-hurricane needs.

“Since we’ve waited this long, we don’t need anyone to reinvent the wheel,” he said. “We want to get moving and put these dollars into action.”

The resolution requests that HUD “consider providing up-front disbursement” of part of the funding for projects that clearly meet criteria for inclusion under the State’s Action Plan.

The resolution will be forwarded to President Joe Biden, Edwards, members of the Louisiana legislative and congressional delegations and HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge.