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Governor Edwards meets with Congress on disaster recovery funding

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WASHINGTON - Congress has decided on money that'll be used to rebuild areas from devastation in all fifty states over the last year, and Louisiana lawmakers are wheeling and dealing for a significant part of the pot.

"First of all, the bill has to pass. Then each agency at the federal level that has appropriated money has to figure out how much of that is going to get a portion to which state," Governor John Bel Edwards said.

Back-to-back years of strong storms packing a punch means Louisiana is dealing with expensive clean-up operations and assistance programs from 2020 and 2021.

The first round of new money here would go to several places, including the Corps of Engineers, DOTD, and federal grant programs.

"Whatever is in this first instrument will be a down payment to get started with the recovery as it relates to housing and other issues," Edwards said.

Just in the last month, 770,000 people have applied for assistance from FEMA or Ida alone.

Housing is likely going to be a big problem.

"We believe that the unmet housing needs for Ida alone in Louisiana will be about $2.5 billion. And the current estimate for public assistance is going to be about $2.2 billion, and that comes with a non-federal match obligation that will be over $225 million," Edwards explained.

There is more than $900 million in housing needs from last year's storms. The biggest concern is getting the Community Development Block Grant funding.

"Our local governmental entities have really been stretched. So, to get the flexibility to meet our non-federal obligations on match from CDBG is going to be critically important. But we also have to have enough funding in order to make that a real benefit," Edwards said.

There is no specific dollar amounts yet because the agencies will have to determine how much will go to Louisiana and for which disasters.

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