TERREBONNE PARISH, La. — Tents are still temporary housing in parts of Southern Terrebonne Parish, a full month after Hurricane Ida ripped through homes.
“The housing crisis is horrible right now,” said District 8 Councilmember Dirk Guidry. “It’s just sad to see these people, hardworking people, that use to have a place to live that is on the streets now.”
Guidry represents the Chauvin and Cocodrie areas. He says he already knows of 700 people in need of temporary housing in his district alone. A need even greater across the parish.
“It would probably take 1,800 campers, just right now, to take care of that,” said Guidry.
So far, he says not even one has shown up, even though he was told weeks ago 1,500 campers would be brought in.
“The people right now, I feel like the government has let them down, not only the federal government but the state government. There’s nothing coming,” said Guidry.
“The fastest thing that FEMA can do is to provide money,” said John Mills, who is part of the FEMA Incident Management Assistance Team.
Mills says because FEMA must follow local and state laws and regulations, providing rental assistance and hotel stays, wherever they can be found, are the best options right now.
“Just across Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes we’ve provided more than $112 million across those two parishes,” said Mills. “About $62 million in Terrebonne and more than $50 million in Lafourche.”
Mills says trailers are a possible option, but setting them up in flood zones, during hurricane season creates challenges.
“That can require construction work and that can take some time,” said Mills.
Guidry says FEMA did find his neighbor, who is sleeping in her truck, a hotel, but there’s a problem.
“It’s in Gulfport, Mississippi so there’s really no way you can take care of your home three hours away,” said Guidry.
Guidry says folks want to stay on their property, something folks in lower Jefferson Parish want as well. Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng says getting trailers in place is all talk right now, no action.
“Things are moving but of course for those of us here on the ground, it’s always too slow because you know the need is just so immediate,” said Sheng.
An immediate need that so far comes with no immediate solution. Governor Edwards says the slow process is not satisfactory and is pushing FEMA every day to begin the process of getting trailers in place.
“It has been frustrating for everyone involved but I believe we’re going to see some movement on that very soon,” said Edwards.