At its Feb. 3 meeting in Lafayette Parish, the Restore Louisiana Task Force heard details and public comments on the state Office of Community Development’s action plan for distributing $1.2 billion in federally funded flood relief.
Comments will be accepted through Feb.15 online and at public meetings scheduled around the state over the next two weeks. Those comments will be included when the $1.2 billion appropriation action plan is submitted by Feb. 24 to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees the appropriation.
Also in the Feb. 3 meeting, the task force was updated on several important communications sent to federal officials.
The governor’s Office of Community Development has asked for support from HUD to waive a requirement that 70 percent of the recent $1.2 billion appropriation is spent on low-to-moderate income families. OCD has asked for technical assistance to lower the rate to 50 percent, which would increase the number of households that could qualify for assistance.
OCD also has asked HUD for a 12-month extension to a key reimbursement deadline. As OCD executive director Pat Forbes explains to HUD, the fact that Louisiana experienced two major floods creates unique circumstances.
In addition, Gov. Edwards sent an appeal directly to President Donald Trump for $2.08 billion in unmet recovery needs. The money would fund a number of crucial issues in the recovery process:
- $1.344 billion in homeowner assistance that would cover the unmet needs of 57,000 families determined by FEMA to have major or severe damage to their homes ‒ more than 1 foot of water and more than $8,000 in damage
- $80 million in rental assistance, covering 25 percent of the 193,000 flood-impacted families
- $58 million in business and agriculture assistance
- $600 million for infrastructure, which has received no appropriation funding to date, for resiliency and flood protection.
Gov. Edwards is seeking separate funding for smart, regional flood-protection and construction-planning going forward, along with long-term physical and health-related needs for families:
- $125 million for the Comite River Diversion Project
- $86 million in Social Services Block Grant funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The governor sent a separate letter to members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation, informing them of his request for additional funds. Members were also asked to support the governor’s request to change Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage guidelines that are effectively slowing down flood-impacted families’ receipt of claims proceeds through the National Flood Insurance Program.
Task force members encouraged residents of flood-impacted communities to contact the state’s congressional delegation and urge members to support Gov. Edwards’ request for additional funding. Later this month, the governor travels to Washington, D.C., for the fifth time since last year’s flood to appeal in person for additional relief.
Last modified: February 14, 2017