FEMA to reimburse City of Lake Charles $46.5 million

Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 6:28 AM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Four and a half million cubic yards of debris — that is about 300 thousand dump trucks worth.

And it is how much the city of Lake Charles has picked up after Hurricane Laura.

“Our current estimate for debris removal — 4.3 cubic million yards of debris is around $90 million. Monitoring is another six to $7 million,” said Karen Harrell, the Lake Charles Director of Finance.

While the first 30 days of that debris pickup are covered in full by FEMA, the rest of the time that bill is split.

“The city will have to pay 10% of those amounts, which will be funded by the city,” said Harrell.

A $70 million price tag: Lake Charles covers 10%, while FEMA will reimburse the city for the other 90%, as FEMA spokesperson Tiana Suber explains.

“This is a PA program, we decided to come up with a plan for paying 90% of the reimbursement rate for debris removal, to make repairs in the city, and to make, you know, whatever changes they need to recover from a current disaster,” she said.

Lake Charles Director of Finance Karen Harrell says getting reimbursed takes time.

“It’s been ten months since Hurricane Laura, and we’re just receiving authorization for that debris pickup,” she said. So it’s money that the city has been invoiced for, money that the city has paid, and we’re just being reimbursed for that.”

So far, $46.5 million of FEMA’s part of the bill has been approved to be reimbursed to the city.

While that might sound like a lot, Harrell says the city still has a lot of financial obligations from not just Laura and Delta, but from last month’s flooding.

“We just authorized an additional $3 million for drainage at a meeting earlier in the week,” she said. “So the city is where we’re struggling, it’s going to be a hard financial blow for us as we rebuild our buildings, we’ll have our city shares to pay for all of that reconstruction,” she said.

Regarding debris pick-up from Hurricane Laura, City Administrator John Cardone says it is not over.

“We are asking our citizens to try to have all the debris out from Hurricane Laura by the end of this month so we can start our final debris pick up, a final pass,” he said.

Cardone estimates the price for picking up residential flood debris to be about one and a half million dollars.

There is no word yet from FEMA on if it will be picking up part of that tab.

Of course, Calcasieu Parish has been declared a federal disaster from the May flooding, making way for individual assistance for flood victims.

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