FEMA says Fourth and forward as Rita anniversary approaches

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - As the 4th anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita approach FEMA and state recovery officials have coined the slogan "Fourth and forward" as Louisiana pushes on to recover from those devastating storms.

FEMA officials say $14.6 billion has been provided over the last four years in public assistance, individual assistance and hazard mitigation grant program funding over the last four years. Calcasieu Parish's share of that money has been about $334 million in federal recovery dollars. Calcasieu Director of Emergency Operations Dick Gremillion says when it comes to costs on public agencies debris removal is the biggest expense. In all about $91 million  went for public assistance grants including debris removal, emergency protective measures and work to repair or rebuild public facilities. Explains Gremillion, "Emergency work might include things like overtime, expendable supplies like mre's and water that we used for evacuees, transportation expenses, debris removal, things like that. Permanent work is things like uninsured losses on buildings and other infrastructure like dams, bridges, roadways, signs, things like that."

After the storms there were thousands of people in FEMAtrailers throughout the parish. Right now FEMA says only 185 temporary housing units remain. Gremillion says that's a sign of progress. "If you recall, after Hurricane Rita we had thousands of people who needed a place to stay."

Louisiana Recovery officials say Hurricanes Rita and Katrina combined figure as the largest disaster in U.S. history.

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