Feb 24, 2021 | In the News

President Joe Biden on Monday approved a request by Gov. John Bel Edwards to increase the federal cost-share for FEMA public assistance programs in response to Hurricane Laura from 75 to 90 percent.

Biden’s approval follows action by former President Donald Trump that granted 100 percent federal cost-share for a 30-day window.

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said a group of local and state officials communicating with the federal delegation and the White House were instrumental in getting the 30 days of 100 percent funding and the 90 percent adjustment.

“These are great milestones,” the mayor said Tuesday. “This shows what teamwork and partnerships can accomplish.”

Having the federal government cover 90 percent of the hurricane costs frees up more city dollars to help with local needs, Hunter said. Had the city been required to pay 25 percent of those costs, it would have been “a major setback,” he said.

“This will mean certainly many millions of dollars for local agencies,” he said. “The city has more money to invest in things we invest in every day, like infrastructure, in all of those aspects we are tasked with on a daily basis.”

Federal funding for Hurricane Laura can fall under different categories, such as debris removal, emergency preparedness, along with above normal payroll, supply purchases and other hurricane-related costs.

Hunter said Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery dollars will be forthcoming from the federal government.

The money can be used to fill gaps in payments that residents received from insurance and FEMA to fix their hurricane-damaged homes.

“By far housing is still our greatest need,” Hunter said. “I’m still optimistic those CDBG dollars are coming.”

U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Lafayette, said in a statement that the federal cost-share adjustment is a “huge win for South Louisiana.”

A request by Gov. Edwards to add another 15 days of 100 percent federal funding is pending, Hunter said.

John Guidroz, American Press

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