Mayor Nic Hunter writes letter to FEMA: ‘I really am getting so frustrated’

Updated: Mar. 11, 2021 at 6:58 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter sent FEMA a letter Thursday to express his frustration about the ongoing housing challenges in the area.

“FEMA’s done some good things, but I tell you, with this temporary housing plan, it’s been a disappointment,” said Hunter.

It’s been over six months since the hurricanes destroyed so much and left so many displaced. Plans from FEMA are in motion, but the Mayor of Lake Charles said he feels more could have been done sooner. Earlier this month, FEMA told KPLC about it’s plan to have everyone housed by September or October.

“Recovery from a big disaster like this is a very complex process that takes more time than anybody wants it to,” said FEMA’s Federal Coordinating officer John Long.

“Recently, the timeline for full implementation of FEMA’s temporary housing plan was extended until September October of this year. And that’s going to be well over a year after Hurricane Laura first hit Lake Charle. I find that unacceptable,” said Hunter.

Hunter says his motivation to write the letter stems from how long this plan took to implement.

“I really am getting so frustrated. I’m running out of appropriate words to use to express how disappointed we are in the speed.”

In the letter he wrote:

In December of last year, locals were told that the expected timeline for completion of the temporary housing plan was June of this year. In December, I was sick at the thought of members of the community waiting until June for adequate housing, almost ten months removed from the storm. Now, to my dismay and utter disbelief, we are being told that the completion date may not be until September or October of this year. This is outrageous.

He said solutions suggested “immediately after the hurricanes” regarding group housing -- FEMA called a last resort and would not consider.

“Time and time again, we’ve visited with FEMA and offered some other options. We were told that group sites initially would not be considered because of the timeliness, the implementation, the problems with them.”

Hunter says that if this process started six months ago, residents could have been welcomed into their homes today instead of this fall.

“Here we are today, and they are considering group sites. They realize they’re going to have to create a group site from scratch. Why didn’t we have that revelation six months ago?”

We are great Americans here in Southwest Louisiana; however, many believe their federal government has forgotten them. We need our friends and family members home in Lake Charles. At this stage, I urge and pray all available expediency and effort be focused on establishing the necessary group sites so that local citizens can achieve access to the basic, human need of adequate housing.

KPLC has reached out to FEMA for a statement and is still awaiting a response.

You can see Mayor Hunter’s full statement HERE.

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