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Lake Charles Recovery: Mayor Hunter visits White House to talk disaster relief

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 7:03 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Hurricane recovery has consumed the lives of Southwest Louisiana residents nearly one year after Hurricane Laura made landfall.

When it comes to getting the attention of the federal government, many feel we’ve been forgotten. That’s one reason why Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter is in Washington, D.C. this week.

It’s no secret Mayor Hunter has expressed the growing need for a disaster relief package, not only on social media but also during President Biden’s visit to the Lake Area in May.

READ MORE: Mayor Hunter reflects on Pres. Biden’s visit to Lake Charles

”Southwest Louisiana, Lake Charles, is the community that had its house financially in order before the storms. It’s not as if we’re coming to DC and asking for a bailout,” Hunter said.

It’s an ongoing frustration that has led Mayor Hunter to the White House.

”Supplemental aid happened 10 days after Hurricane Katrina. It happened 98 days after Super Storm Sandy. Here Lake Charles is sitting 320 days post-Hurricane Laura, and we still don’t have the same type of proper federal response that other communities have achieved days or weeks after the event.”

During the trip, Hunter plans to meet with Louisiana’s federal delegation along with White House staff to discuss the need for federal aid following Hurricane Laura.

“The biggest thing that we’re asking for right now is supplemental disaster aid which is more traditionally called CDBGDR, and that happens after natural disasters.”

Already having expressed the needs of the city to Senators Kennedy and Cassidy, along with Congressman Clay Higgins, Hunter is really banking his trip on discussions with The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and the White House.

”We have to have more resources for housing in Southwest Louisiana. The housing need alone for the City of Lake Charles is $235 million. Our general fund budget is $80 million a year for the city. We could shut down all city services and maybe make a dent in housing,” Hunter said. “The federal government cannot expect local government and non-profits alone to fill the gap for the need that’s out there.”

Hunter says his biggest mission is getting low to moderate-income individuals who were underinsured or uninsured into sustainable housing, and it’s going to take more resources than what’s available locally in Southwest Louisiana.

This is Hunter’s first trip to Washington since the storms. He’s expected to wrap up his trip on Friday.

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