Remember the catastrophic flooding in Louisiana last August, brought on by record rainfall? Congress authorized emergency spending to help the state's residents recover. White House officials pressed Congress to allocate $2.6 billion dollars to the state (see: "White House to Congress: $2.6B emergency flood relief package to Louisiana, ASAP," by Elizabeth Crisp/The Advocate, 9/13/16), but in the end lawmakers approved only $500 million (see: "$500 million Louisiana flood aid package survives Senate budget fight," by Richard Rainey/The Times-Picayune, 9/28/16).
Louisiana officials termed this money, managed through the federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program, a "down payment" on the state's needs. Now, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards is headed back to Washington to ask Congress to provide more help. There's just one problem, reported The Advocate: the state has no clear plan to spend the money that has already been approved (see: "Gov. John Bel Edwards prepares to make case for more flood money, but agreement still not reached on how to spend initial $438M," by Elizabeth Crisp).
The Advocate reported, "Edwards, a Democrat who took office in January, just two months before flooding swept across north Louisiana and seven months before floods spread across Baton Rouge and south Louisiana, said he isn't concerned that he doesn't have an initial plan to report back to Congress. 'I would rather them understand and get it right, rather than get it quickly,' he said. But members of the state's Congressional delegation have repeatedly stressed the urgency of establishing recovery programs that they can use to help make the case for billions more in flood aid."
"Officials have estimated that the Louisiana floods in March and August caused $8.7 billion in damage," the paper reported. "The latest estimates say that as many as 180,000 structures – homes and public buildings, such as schools or police stations – sustained damage in the August flood alone."
Federal flood insurance has paid out more than a billion dollars in claims in three months, according to FEMA (see: "More than $1 billion paid on Louisiana flood policies," by KATC.com). FEMA also has other aid money available to flood victims, but time is running out to sign up for help, reported The Advocate (see: "Louisiana flood victims have one week left to register for disaster aid," by Associated Press). "Assistance for homeowners and renters may include grants for rent, temporary housing and home repair as well as other serious disaster-related needs, such as medical and dental expenses or funeral and burial costs," the paper reported. "Survivors should also submit their disaster loan application to the U.S. Small Business Administration by Nov. 14."