State leaders are moving forward with a plan that would direct about $1.3 billion to help homeowners rebuild from historic floods that swept Louisiana last year.

But it could still be months before those housing programs are up and running, and leaders say even more money is needed from Congress to help the state fully recover.

Gov. John Bel Edwards on Friday outlined his plan for the $1.2 billion that Congress set aside in December for the state's recovery, including a plan for $935.4 million to homeowner programs, $80 million for rental programs and $50 million for business owners.

That is on top of the $437.8 million allocated to the state in September – the bulk of which will go to homeowner programs for the elderly and disabled and the poor. The state submitted the final draft of that initial plan on Friday.

"There is nothing easy about bouncing back from such a devastating natural disaster," Edwards said Friday. "We're certainly going to rebuild and recover and thrive like never before."

He also stressed his plan to go back to Congress to seek an additional $2 billion for aid.

"We're grateful for the amount of money we have been allocated so far, but make no mistake there are many needs left to meet," Edwards said.

Officials have estimated that the state suffered as much as $8.7 billion in damage from the floods that hit south Louisiana in August and north Louisiana in the spring. Damage has been documented to more than 113,000 homes — a number that is expected to grow as the recovery continues.

Edwards, who has made several trips to Washington to lobby for flood aid, had requested $4 billion from Congress.

The Congressional funding is in addition to the $588 million in individual assistance that has been distributed through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Edwards' administration has estimated that, based on federal restrictions tied to the nearly $1.7 billion the state has secured so far, the state will receive the initial $437.8 million in April, and the next $1.2 billion shortly thereafter.

About $1.3 billion of the nearly $1.68 billion total has been set aside to help homeowners cover repairs that still need to be made or reimbursing for work that has already been done.

"While $1.6 billion sounds like a lot of money, and it certainly is a lot of money, it's still $1 billion short of the housing recovery alone," Edwards said.

The details are still being finalized, so it's unclear how much money each homeowner might be eligible for, but Edwards said that it would offer "some measure of help to everyone who had major or severe damage from the floods and who was not carrying flood insurance."

Edwards said he wished that the money could go further to aid those who had flood insurance.

"We recognized that many of them will still have unmet needs," he said. "It's just a very unfortunate reality."

The state also has not yet set up a formal system for those affected by the flood to apply or be vetted. The state is expected to contract a firm that will oversee the effort. About 19 percent, or $319.2 million, will go toward administrative and delivery costs associated with running the program, including outreach and program auditing. That's down from initial estimates of about 25 percent set aside, and Edwards said the goal is to try to get the number even lower.

Of the total $1.68 million coming to the state in semi-flexible block grants through the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, the Edwards' administration's plan calls for about $100 million to be used for programs that aim to bolster the rental housing stock through incentives that would encourage owners to turn their properties into rentals, repairs to damaged units and the construction of new apartments.

Another $62 million will go toward business and agriculture, including grants and loans for those that were affected by the floods.

The state also plans to use $105 million to cover money that the state and local governments owe to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to match recovery efforts.

FEMA covered 90 percent of the emergency services for the August floods and 75 percent for the March floods, leaving government on the hook for the rest.

Edwards said that local officials had lobbied "very hard" to get their shares covered by the federal appropriation.

He said across the state cities and parishes are facing tighter tax bases due to the flooding.

"Their expenses went up and their revenue went down," he said.

Edwards said he knows that there are critics who say that the pace of the recovery has been slow. The state Republican Party released a statement earlier this week accusing the Democratic governor of holding up the process.

Edwards countered that the process has moved at "record speed."

"Our state is not slowing down the process in any way," he said Friday. "The danger of misrepresenting Louisiana's role in the process could jeopardize the next appropriation that we know we need."

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, said in an interview Friday that he plans to continue to push the federal government to loosen restrictions on the money's distribution. "We need to start getting the money out for the people who need it," he said.

Cassidy, who was a key player in the push for the state's earlier round of flood aid, said that he would work to secure more funding if the opportunity arises.

"If there is a possibility for more money, we will work to that end," he said.

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Updates from Advocate reporter Elizabeth Crisp:

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.