After almost $2 trillion, with a T, in spending from the new Congress and Biden administration, an additional $3 billion needed for hurricane relief is almost a rounding error.
It’s a huge amount of money for Louisiana, however, and is needed as the state still struggles with its record hits of hurricane landfalls in 2020, particularly in the Lake Charles area.
The five parishes in southwest Louisiana were savaged by Hurricane Laura more than six months ago. It was one of the worst storms ever to hit the United States and was followed by Hurricane Delta striking the same parishes.
Louisiana’s people in that region are still struggling.
“Certainly, the scale of this event and the impact of this event is going to mean that recovery goes on for years,” said Casey Tingle, deputy director of the state homeland security office.
If recovery is going to be a long time coming for the Lake Charles area, there is an urgent need for relief now.
Tingle spoke after the disclosure, to us shocking, that the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency doesn’t expect to fulfill the need for emergency temporary housing until September or October for all the Laura/Delta victims. More than one year after landfall?
There are lots of problems with providing housing. While a center of petrochemical refining and natural gas exports, the region is smaller than other metro areas and capacities for construction tasks are not built in a day.
But this schedule seems at best slow and deserves some attention from the Louisiana delegation on Capitol Hill.
We do not doubt that Louisiana’s delegation — every one of them has been through a hurricane at some point in their lives, after all — will prioritize the passage of an aid bill. Laura hit hard all the way up to Shreveport, not just southern parishes. Former U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond of New Orleans is also a top Biden aide.
The $3 billion requested for block grants would give state and local governments more flexible dollars. It’s a more or less normal request after giant storms but we live in an era where “normal” no longer carries as much force as it used to.
That Louisiana’s delegation in Congress is dominated by Republicans should be a help, as this bill could be a bipartisan gesture after Republicans voted 100% against President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief bill.
We would hope there are many areas in which Americans can still come together in common purpose across social and political lines. But we can’t think of a better item on that wish list than the faster recovery of storm-wracked southwestern Louisiana.