The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that Louisiana will receive $1.2 billion in federal grants for long-term disaster recovery efforts.
HUD awarded nine states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands with nearly $28 billion in Community Development block grants for disaster recovery (CDBG-DR). The grants are HUD’s largest-ever single allocation for disaster recovery assistance that are designed to support recovery efforts after natural disasters.
Approximately $16 billion will go towards mitigation activities to “protect communities from the predictable damage from future events.” Roughly $12 billion will go towards “unmet needs” stemming from 2017 disasters, including Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma, and California wildfires.
HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement, “It’s clear that a number of states and local communities are still struggling to recover from a variety of natural disasters that occurred in the past three years. These grants will help rebuild communities impacted by past disasters and will also protect them from major disasters in the future.”
Louisiana’s entire CDBG-DR grant of $1.2 billion is dedicated to mitigation projects.
Louisiana Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and Republican U.S. Rep. Garret Graves said in a joint statement that Louisiana will dedicate its $1.2 billion grant to “hazard mitigation projects” in parishes devastated by the 2016 floods.
Graves called the CDBG-DR appropriation “one of the largest flood protection, mitigation and resiliency disaster appropriations made to the state of Louisiana in history.”
The $1.2 billion grant now adds to a total of $10 billion the state has received for flood mitigation. Edwards said it will enable Louisiana to “advance critical projects that have been stagnant for far too long – projects like Comite, West Shore, Upper Barataria Risk Reduction and Morganza to the Gulf.”
Graves said the grant will be combined with “U.S. Army Corps of Engineers money” to “give Louisiana flexibility to directly take the lead on implementing and completing projects instead of being held hostage by the bureaucracy of the Corps.”
Edwards said the next step is to “work with stakeholders and local governments to determine what projects to fund and outline our plan to HUD.”
The money will be used to clear the debris in bayous, ditches and other southern Louisiana drainage waterways in East Baton Rouge, Livingston, Ascension and help reduce potential damages from future flooding.