Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks at a press conference at the State Capitol Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, on the state’s plan for spending $1.2 billion in flood-relief funding recently approved by Congress. He's flanked by Restore Louisiana Task Force co-chairs Jimmy Durbin, left, and Jacqui Vines, center.

ADVOCATE STAFF PHOTO BY TRAVIS SPRADLING

Between Tropical Storm Cindy and just regular Louisiana showers, it's been a wet spring and summer, but for too many households in our state, rains is a reminder of last year's unfinished business.

The catastrophic flooding of 2016, particularly in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area, cried out for a major response from the U.S. government. In terms of property damage, including thousands of homes still out of commission, it was one of the worst disasters in American history.

Even though many people had flood insurance, the vast bulk of homes and many small businesses had not taken policies in the National Flood Insurance Program. The state of Louisiana counted upon a robust federal response to be able to restore homes, public buildings and commercial outlets in the hardest-hit neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, storm relief still hasn't been fully addressed by Congress. Calculating from the damage figures compiled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the state estimated that $3.8 billion was needed for an effective response.

At $1.6 billion, most of which is being focused on homeowner relief, Louisiana remains pitiably short of the amount needed. In some hard-hit areas around Baton Rouge, the damaged homes and other structures stir unwelcome memories of the devastation caused by the giant storms of 2005.

The political calendar was always somewhat against Louisiana: a bitterly contested national election, then the inevitable recriminations that involved, then more debates about other national issues like health care. Louisiana's plight required more attention than we got.

The senseless shooting of our most influential member of Congress, third-ranking House leader Steve Scalise of Jefferson Parish, inevitably has hurt our delegation, too.

While reauthorization of the flood insurance program is of vital importance to the country, and it is not directly related to the issue of relief and recovery in Louisiana today, it may well be in the minds of Congress that Louisiana is, per person, the biggest draw on the NFIP account.

We would argue that that is the fault of federal levees that failed during Hurricane Katrina, more than anything else, but that might not be top of mind for busy politicos in the U.S. Capitol.

Now, with the anniversary of the August floods coming up, and with the Legislature having finally adjourned, we are confident that Gov. John Bel Edwards and members of our delegation will press our case on Capitol HIll for a more responsible amount of money in flood relief.

Putting these issues off has become a legislative habit, as Edwards has noted, with federal spending allocated by temporary spending resolutions than through the formal budget bills of yesteryear. But this has cost us dearly in wasted time -- and anxiety in many families whenever there's another heavy rain.