Letter: New movement in Washington helps recovery here

Published 12:29 pm Sunday, April 17, 2022

Richert L. Self

Executive Director of Port of Lake Charles

The Port of Lake Charles is the gateway for major businesses and industries that drive Southwest Louisiana’s economy. It facilitates local jobs, regional industry, national energy needs and global trade.

Email newsletter signup

When Hurricanes Laura and Delta left the region’s households and businesses in disarray, the port faced the dual challenge of starting repairs and resuming services — and it did both within days.

The Port — whose most familiar components are the Port of Lake Charles and the Calcasieu Ship Channel — is still recovering from the storms. The Port’s current recovery cost estimate exceeds $224 million. Beyond the need for a traditional federal response to these storms, an additional challenge has been getting timely reimbursement by FEMA for post-storm expenses.

Recent efforts by Congressman Clay Higgins’ office have boosted the FEMA obligated projects to approximately $14 million. Congressman Higgins and his team reached out to FEMA to discuss the delayed processing of projects — and it resulted in an in-person meeting between FEMA and the Port. Without these efforts, the Port would still be waiting for these projects to complete the FEMA review process. We have a long road ahead of us and more must be done, but this is a great step in a positive direction.

Also, since these new developments with FEMA, the federal government has announced that additional federal funds have been allocated to assist in the long-term recovery needs of the region.

I thank the full Louisiana congressional delegation for its efforts to secure more than $1 billion in disaster relief for Hurricanes Laura and Delta.

These funds took longer to be approved than anticipated, so the delegation’s constant advocacy over the last two years kept the needs of those affected or displaced by the storms front-of-mind with Congress and the White House.