ST. TAMMANY, La. -- The man in charge of offering federal assistance for Hurricane Isaac recovery was on the ground in St. Tammany Parish on Wednesday.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate eyeballed damage in the Slidell area, including Lakeview Drive, Palm Lake subdivision and Northshore Beach Park.
"The thing I've heard the most, from both sides of the river, from both states, people are seeing water they didn't during Katrina and so we're working with local officials and our partners at the federal level, Corps of Engineers and others, and are asking the question, what happened, why'd it happen and how do we do it better next time," he said.
Local leaders say they believe Fugate wants to help -- and will.
"He was candid and gave us the information we needed and I appreciate his being here more than I can say," said St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister.
But people in the places covered in the tour aren't so confident in the agency. It's a sentiment that echoes in newly FEMA-qualified Tangipahoa Parish and still-waiting Washington Parish, places that Fugate says assistance offers lagged behind in because the more widespread and obvious areas of damage, like St. Tammany Parish, came first.
"We're not asking because we're just chitchatting, we need the help, we all do," said Palm Lake resident Linda Crawford.
People across the Northshore hope these piles of debris, also considered their damage documentation, will send a clear message that a lot of help is needed.
The FEMA administrator seems to have gotten the hint.
"We're going to be here," Fugate said. "We ain't going anywhere soon. We got work to do."
And that stands for the entire area.
"He knows this isn't just one parish," said St. Tammany Parish Councilman Richie Artigue. "It's multiple parishes and I think we'll do really good with that too, because we're gonna get support from all these parishes that never had problems before."
The FEMA administrator is asking people to be patient through the agency's process and to be aware help could come in the form of loans, for those who can afford them, and grants, for those that cannot.
He said even if you get a loan application, fill it out, because the agency may change their minds and offer you a grant.