Supporting Flood Survivors in Louisiana
This past week, I visited Baton Rouge, Louisiana to see firsthand the damage of the recent, historic flooding. I met displaced families, disaster response coordinators and community leaders who are making sure HUD is providing all the help we can, as fast as we can.
Here’s a closer look at our work on the ground.
HUD’s New Orleans Field Office
Families who have been forced out of their homes need to know that help is available to begin the rebuilding process. When I arrived in Louisiana on Wednesday, my first stop was HUD’s New Orleans Field Office. The local staff is working with community leaders on the ground, connecting flood survivors to the assitance they need.
Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
Helping these counties recover is a priority for both HUD and the State of Louisiana. On Thursday morning, I sat down with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and FEMA team members to discuss HUD’s role in federal recovery efforts. HUD is granting immediate foreclosure relief for FHA-insured families and offering loans for housing rehabilitation — and we’ll keep working with local governments until the community is back on its feet.
HUD-Assisted Housing in Denham Springs
More than 60,000 people in Louisiana have lost their homes to the historic flooding. After my morning meeting with Governor Edwards, I joined Denham Springs Mayor Gerard Landry and Denham Springs Housing Authority Executive Director Fred Banks for a tour of local HUD-assisted housing. Many of the residents who lived in the homes we visited are senior members of the community or disabled. Neighbors, known as “Cajun Navy,” came together with their own fishing boats as the flood hit to immediately evacuate the older residents, some as old as ninety-three, and moved each of them out safely. HUD is focused on getting these families re-housed and helping the town rebuild.
Baton Rouge Disaster Recovery Center and FEMA Joint Field Office
Thirteen Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) are open in Ascension, Baton Rouge, Iberia, St. Helena, St. Martin, Tangipahoa, and West Feliciana parishes where survivors can apply for assistance and meet face-to-face with recovery specialists. In the face of this natural disaster, HUD stepped up. We deployed a team of 24 full-time disaster recovery and housing experts to support FEMA’s mission: provide immediate housing assistance. The devastation is bitter reminder of how much the families of this region endured 11 years ago in Hurricane Katrina’s wake. But it’s also a reminder of the courage and commitment of the people across Louisiana who stepped up to help their neighbors in New Orleans and throughout the Gulf Coast region after Katrina — and who’re now doing the same for folks in Baton Rouge.
Mason’s Grill in Baton Rouge
Senator David Vitter invited Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), and I for a working lunch at a family-owned restaurant, Mason’s Grill. There, we heard from local small business owners whose livelihoods have been affected by the flooding. More than 2,000 federal employees, including FEMA, SBA, and HUD are helping speed up assistance to survivors. We’re going to stand with the people of Baton Rouge and the families of Louisiana until the community is back on its feet — until children can return to school, until small businesses can reopen their doors, and until everyone who’s lost their home in this disaster has a safe place to live.