In August, Louisiana suffered the biggest natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina. Amazingly, Governor John Bel Edwards and his administration still do not have the plan to spend Federal flood relief and we’re almost at the close of 2016.
Louisiana’s Congressional delegation has gone to work for the state. They have secured more than $1 billion in Federal money that is designed to help flood victims get their lives back on track.
The reason why that money has not gone to flood victims is because of John Bel Edwards. Before the Federal government will allow Louisiana to spend the money it has received, they want a flood recovery plan. They want to know how Louisiana will spend that money. But the Feds have yet to be presented with a plan from the state.
From The Advocate:
The first installment, which probably will be in Louisiana hands by April, requires that a majority of the money goes to help low income and elderly survivors. Much of the money HUD awarded Friday, which will be available later in the spring, can be used more broadly for recovery efforts that involve housing, economic development, and prevention of further damage. The grants could include buying damaged properties in a flood plain and relocating residents to safer areas; rehabilitation of damaged homes; fixing public facilities; and helping businesses.
But the state must first detail exactly how that money will be spent and when.
The Governor’s Office of Community Development will discuss its recommendations for the plan to spend the additional money at the Jan. 6 Restore Louisiana Task Force meeting to be held in Livingston Parish. Federal rules require the state to present a plan to HUD before the funds can be disbursed.
“The faster we get through this federal approval process, the quicker money will begin flowing into the hands of Louisianans who’ve been impacted,” Edwards said. “I’ve asked the congressional delegation to work with me to expedite this process, and we are continuing to push the federal government to assist us in lowering the administrative costs.”
Seriously? Why hasn’t the state been moving faster on its end?
The Congressional delegation has been urging JBE to actually come up with a plan since August. They have stressed the importance of this numerous times over the past few months.
It’s also not like Louisiana doesn’t have experience recovering from disasters. After all, this is the state that suffered strikes from Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, and the BP oil spill all within the span of 5 years. Louisiana state government should be good at developing disaster recovery plans by now.
The Federal guidelines do not change from disaster from disaster. They follow the same playbook no matter what the disaster is. Smart leaders know how to leverage this to their state’s benefit. Proactive governors use their recovery plans to drive the Federal response. That was the secret behind Haley Barbour’s and Mississippi’s successful recovery from Katrina.
It has always been clear that John Bel Edwards is out of his league as Louisiana governor. His utter incompetence in dealing with the flood aftermath has only exposed it further.