LA - Ida's long reach could help take the politics out of disaster aid

Louisianans have faced enough natural disasters not to wish the experience on anyone else, not even the insensitive souls elsewhere who, each time a big storm roars ashore, wonder aloud why people live here.

So there was no joy in watching the remnants of Hurricane Ida deal a deadly blow to the Northeast so soon after she’d had her way with our state. There was, though, recognition. And there should be common purpose.

The country should be long past the point where floods in one area and fires in another pit region against region, or Democrat versus Republican. We know perfectly well that climate change is coming for all of us, that while New Orleans and Louisiana’s coastal areas are vulnerable, so are New York and Texas and California, just to name a few states that have suffered from extreme weather recently. It’s now a given that any part of the country could need help at any time.

Some federal aid is triggered automatically when disaster strikes, including much of what comes from FEMA. But then there are different pots of money that must be approved through Congress, and that’s where things get bogged down.

More than a year after the Category 4 Hurricane Laura struck, the Lake Charles area is still waiting for Community Development Block Grant disaster funds, which come through the Department of Housing and Urban Development and can be used to fill in the gaps in other sorts of recovery aid and insurance coverage. The top priority in the Calcasieu area is a permanent housing program, along the lines of the Road Home after Katrina and Rita in 2005.

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