Lake Charles Mayor shows concerns with FEMA housing

Published: Dec. 23, 2020 at 10:43 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - It has been nearly four months since Hurricane Laura and Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter is expressing his concerns about the need for temporary housing for hurricane victims.

Mayor Hunter says FEMA representatives acted quickly to get boots on the ground right after the hurricanes hit, but now, months later, contracts are being stalled when it comes to providing temporary housing units in the parish for those impacted.

“It’s my understanding that the units are sitting in Alexandria collecting dust. We need to get those down here in Calcasieu Parish. That’s why I sent the letter and that’s why we’re asking them to provide the response that we need here in Lake Charles,” said Mayor Hunter.

Mayor Hunter sent a letter to FEMA representatives pleading with them to speed the process up, but FEMA says this is a challenge as each unit installation requires construction.

“They are currently having negotiations with local land owners about more space for temporary housing units in Calcasieu Parish. Those conversations have been going on for way too long,” continued Mayor Hunter.

FEMA representative Nikki Gaskins says that the process cannot be a fast one however.

“It may be June before the final households are licensed in as there are not enough available commercial or private pads in the parish and we will need to build out more additional sites and, of course, that takes time.”

As of now, hotels and rental units are hard to come by and Mayor Hunter says more RV’s and mobile homes are needed to fill the void.

“As of today, FEMA has licensed in 459 households in Calcasieu Parish alone. That means those families are in units now. And that number increases daily,” explains Gaskins.

Mayor Hunter says he appreciates the assistance from FEMA thus far, but says the need is still great, as hundreds of people are still waiting for mobile units.

“Every day we have more bureaucracy and red tape and it’s another day that someone is sitting, missing home, missing their family, waiting to come back to a job that is here in Lake Charles, so we need to move quickly.”

FEMA representatives say if there are situations where people are not happy with a determination FEMA makes, there is always an option to appeal that decision.

You have sixty days from the time you receive their letter to appeal it.

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