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Southwest Louisiana urging lawmakers to draft a bill for federal disaster relief funds

Updated: Apr. 29, 2021 at 10:14 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Southwest Louisiana is now eight months into hurricane recovery and Congress has yet to approve or draft a disaster relief bill. Local business leaders tired of waiting on Washington decided to take action themselves.

The Alliance for Positive Growth wrote a letter to the entire federal administration urging them to expedite the process for those suffering.

“Look at the blue tarp right there,” says resident, Steven Crumb. “FEMA promised us money, we ain’t got it. They want to ship us back out here. We all struggling. We gotta come out of our pockets.”

Crumb is one of thousands of SWLA residents still giving it their best shot day by day in what they still refer to as “Ground Zero” in terms of hurricane recovery, and time is ticking by.

“We are now at -at least at the 250 day mark of Hurricane Laura. And again, this is the longest it’s ever taken for disaster relief funding,” says APG President, Jeremy Stine.

The previous record was when the Florida Panhandle received funding at the eight-month mark following Hurricane Michael. The scope of Hurricane Laura is still being felt in our region, like at Chennault Airport.

“We’ve experienced $100 million in damage across the airport. So, financial support is so incredibly important to us,” says Kevin Melton, executive director at Chennault. “We’re going to be approximately $5 million plus out of pocket outside the scope of our insurance capabilities.”

That’s why the APG is urging Congress to pass a federal disaster relief bill.

“We drafted a letter about two months ago, at the six-month anniversary of Hurricane Laura. And the letter essentially says we need disaster relief funding now,” says Stine.

The Alliance says an initial appeal from Governor John Bel Edwards to Congress was a $3 billion request. About two billion of that would be allocated for crop and timber losses to assist the hard-hit agricultural industry. The other billion dollars is devoted to homeowner and renter needs. Homeowners in the Lake Area say they feel left behind and forgotten.

“For Katrina, you helped them out,” says Crumb. “We go down there. You ain’t giving us nothing. Look at the blue tarps. They still got debris around here.”

There’s no timeline on if or when their letter will be responded to.

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