Obama says feds will pay 90 percent of August flood costs

BATON ROUGE -- President Barack Obama has approved Gov. John Bel Edwards' request to increase the federal responsibility for response and recovery costs to 90 percent for the August flood in southern Louisiana that killed 13 people, but not yet for the March flood in northern Louisiana.

Normal federal reimbursements for declared disasters are 75 percent.

Obama informed Edwards of his decision in a letter Thursday on the recommendation of Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate.

"Therefore, I amend my declaration of Aug. 14, 2016 to authorize federal funds for all categories of public assistance at 90 percent of total eligible costs," Obama wrote.

Edwards traveled to Washington, D.C., Thursday to lobby for more funding. He is scheduled to  testify Friday before the House Subcommittee on Transportation and Public Assets about the oversight of the federal response to the flooding disaster.

“I am grateful to the Obama administration for understanding the needs of our people and committing the federal resources necessary to help Louisiana during this difficult time,” Edwards said in a statement. “The personal and financial devastation caused by this storm has impacted thousands of individuals and families, as well as the state and local governments.

"This much-needed help creates a clearer path forward, but we still have a long way to go and will continue to ask the federal government for additional assistance. While it will take time to complete the rebuilding process, this amended cost share will enable us to help our people come back stronger than ever.”

Edwards and the state's congressional delegation have also asked that the March flood be rolled into the request to be treated as a single disaster event because it happened in the same calendar year.

Richard Carbo, the governor's spokesman, said Edwards will press for the March flood to be included during meetings Friday.

Fifth Congressional District U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-Alto, said he is seeking answers from FEMA about why the March flood hasn't yet been included. Twenty-two of the 24 parishes in Abraham's district declared disasters in either March or August.

“The cost-share reduction for the August flood was a good first step, however, I’m working with FEMA to determine why it did not grant a cost-share reduction for the more than 40,000 people flooded in March," Abraham said. "The March flood affected mostly rural parishes whose already-limited resources have been stretched even thinner by historic flooding.

"We might not have gotten a presidential visit or a spotlight by the national media, but we still got 20-plus inches of rain that flooded our homes, churches, farms, businesses and schools, too. The administration should grant a cost-share reduction for the victims of the March flood. It is the right thing to do.”

(© 2016 WWL)


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