Cameron devising strategic plan as it awaits federal disaster funding

The amount of federal disaster supplemental funding Southwest Louisiana will get to help with long-term recovery from Hurricanes Laura and Delta remains to be seen.

In the battered Cameron Parish, Police Jury President Scott Trahan said in a statement that the parish looks forward to using the funding to bounce back. More than a year has passed since Hurricane Laura’s devastating landfall, and local officials have repeatedly called on the need for Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funding.

“We want to help create a more resilient future for economic growth and quality of life,” Trahan said of the funding.

While Cameron Parish waits to see how much CDBG-DR dollars will be doled out, it received some good news in late September. FEMA has awarded $8.5 million for debris removal at a 100 percent federal cost-share.

FEMA’s award came after Cameron Parish Administrator Katie Armentor said in a Sept. 18 American Press article that FEMA had only reimbursed the parish $1.2 million. The parish used $12 million from its general fund to cover $30 million in debris removal and debris monitoring costs.

This got the attention of Louisiana lawmakers in Congress, including Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Port Barre, who said in a statement Sept. 29 that FEMA needs a more “efficient review and approval process to public assistance reimbursements.”

Armentor said Tuesday that the parish has already applied to receive the $8.5 million in reimbursement from FEMA, with the money going to the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. She said she anticipates the parish getting the funding from GOHSEP by next week.

“We’re absolutely happy to get that,” Armentor said.

Armentor said the parish is also asking FEMA to provide an advance amount to cover the remaining difference in debris removal costs related to Hurricane Laura.

When it comes to disaster supplemental aid, Armentor said the parish isn’t just waiting to get that assistance.

“We have a lot of ideas,” she said. “We are talking to community members on what needs are the most important, whether it’s more housing related or mitigating the parish from future storm damage. We hope to have our strategic plan done in time when the money comes through.”