LAKE CHARLES – The federal government confirmed Tuesday that southwest Louisiana will receive roughly $600 million in disaster relief for long-term recovery from Hurricanes Laura and Delta, a figure that local officials have labelled as far too low while questioning why it’s taken more than a year to allocate.
The Lake Charles region will have further opportunities to receive additional relief in the weeks ahead, but competition for dollars given the huge number of priorities nationwide means it is likely to be a struggle to see that amount significantly increased.
Southwest Louisiana has pleaded for long-term disaster relief for months, citing the devastation left in August 2020 by Hurricane Laura, the strongest storm to hit the state since 1856. Hurricane Ida, which hit the state’s southeast two months ago, was similar in strength, with 150 mph winds.
But Laura is far from the only weather disaster to leave a mark on southwest Louisiana. It was followed by Category 2 Hurricane Delta six weeks later, a severe winter storm in February and major flooding in May. Thousands of people are believed to still be displaced, and it remains unclear how many residents have left the area for good. Blue roof tarps and ruined businesses remain a common sight.
The money will come from a pot of $5 billion appropriated by Congress for long-term disaster relief, approved as part of a larger spending package at the end of September. Of that amount, $1.6 billion was set aside for 2020 disasters nationwide and had to be allocated within 30 days by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The amount confirmed on Tuesday is in line with estimates that had already been provided to local officials and the state’s congressional delegation. Further steps remain necessary before the money is actually distributed.
There will be at least one other opportunity in the weeks ahead for the region to receive additional aid. Congress must pass another spending plan before … Continue Reading Full Story