State Rep. Wilford Carter says FEMA response to Laura inadequate

Published: Sep. 22, 2020 at 11:49 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - In the days and weeks since Hurricane Laura, while we’ve heard beautiful stories of help and outreach across Southwest Louisiana. We’ve also seen concerns about almost every facet of recovery.

Tuesday, State Representative Wilford Carter weighed in on some of the issues facing his district.

“We’ve got tremendous damage, a lot of the homes won’t be rebuilt because they are too damaged.”

Wilford Carter is a former Calcasieu Parish judge, but now represents District 34 in the state house, a district that, like many, felt the power of Hurricane Laura.

“Unfortunately, FEMA didn’t put tarps on the houses like they did after Rita so we lost a lot of properties.”

Plans reportedly will be released in the coming days regarding temporary housing.

“We need a lot of it. I’m hoping they’ll be able to bring in trailers at the site where their homes are located at so they can be right in the area to work and help contractors rebuild or demolish properties.”

Carter says housing is top priority, but other infrastructure needs are not being met.

“Well the number one problem is being able to have a place to stay. You have to have shelter in order to stay in the city. Number two problem is having insurance – those who have insurance companies – to get the insurance company to work with them to provide funds as soon as possible so they can negotiate with contractors. And of course, a lot of folks have no access to the internet, that’s holding a lot of progress back. I’m very disappointed in Suddenlink. They don’t seem to have had a plan and don’t seem to have made much progress in getting us back online. I think they are going to lose market share if they don’t come up with something in a hurry. So we got a big problem with not having access to the internet.”

Carter also expressed frustration with the move to use $44 billion of disaster relief money for supplemental payments for lost wages due to COVID-19.

“I’m very disappointed to find that a lot of FEMA money was taken out by the President and put elsewhere a lot of disaster relief money, so we are looking at how we help through FEMA to make funds available to people who didn’t have insurance to get some help on rebuilding their houses.”

While proud of the community’s outreach and generosity, Representative Carter is disappointed by the federal response he’s seen.

“FEMA did not do nearly the job they did after Rita. I was here after Rita, I’ve stayed in Lake Charles for every hurricane since Audrey in the 50s. So this is the worst response I’ve seen FEMA do. And they are leaving people high and dry. They can’t come back to the city if they have nowhere to stay. People are in Texas and other parts of la. Kids are going to school right now, are registering for school outside the state so we are losing a lot of education money because kids are registering outside the state of Louisiana. The school system is perhaps one of the most critical problems we have because if you can’t have your kids in school, how can you go to work. So we need to deal with those issues, and hopefully we can deal with those issues during the special session but it all depends on money being made available by the federal government.”

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