Disaster resiliency taught at local workshop - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Disaster resiliency taught at local workshop


  Southwest Louisiana knows better than most the importance of being able to pick up and move forward in the wake of a natural disaster.

 Today local government officials from around the state participated in what they call a financial resilience workshop in Calcasieu Parish.

People here know first hand the struggles of disaster recovery and having enough money to replace what is lost.  The financial resiliency workshop is to train local government on planning for the disaster costs.  

Matt Fannin is an economist from Louisiana State University.
"Do they have the resources as a local government, as a parish or municipality, to bounce back quickly after a disaster? Local governments have a financial burden when disasters come.  Sometimes if the federal government responds, let's say through FEMA, there's still typically on the hook for ten to 25% of their cost," said Fannin.

Cameron Parish Administrator Ryan Bourriaque says for them resiliency means being as efficient as practical.

"Not only with development of residential and industrial, but also in planning.  We are trying to be certainly more proactive in our planning efforts throughout the parish, especially with this industrial development going on in Cameron to the tune of $30 billion. We need to have a well thought out process on these issues," said Bourriaque.

And local officials know they cannot plan on the Federal Government to write as big a check as it did after Hurricanes Rita and Ike.

"Next time, and there will be a next time, we just hope it's not in our near future.  We're going to have to assume more of the cost for cleanup at  a local level, more costs for infrastructure repair and that sort of thing.  The federal government is not in the financial condition that it was even in '05," said Kevin Savoie, with LSU Ag Center.

Just as towns, cities and parishes have to deal with changes so do citizens. For example many have to deal with hefty hurricane deductibles they didn't have to worry about before Hurricane Rita and Ike.

"My hurricane deductible went from 2 to 5% so what I'm having to do personally is set aside more funds in an emergency fund to be able to cover that increased burden," said Fannin.
Part of the purpose of the workshop is to help local government officials develop realistic estimates of funds needed and strike a balance that meets recovery needs without cutting back on services citizens expect.  

 For links to more information on planning and improving your financial readiness for a disaster click here.

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