Louisiana News Briefs

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

National Flood Insurance Program pays $114 million for Louisiana hurricane victims

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), backed by the federal government, has paid more than $114 million to Louisiana victims of hurricanes Laura, Delta and Zeta, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said.

The NFIP has paid more than $44 million to Hurricane Laura victims, more than $67 million for Hurricane Delta victims, and about $3 million for Hurricane Zeta victims, FEMA said.

Louisiana has been approved for more than $1 billion in federal disaster assistance, long-term disaster loans and flood insurance claims since hurricanes Laura and Delta made landfall, mostly consisting of $627 million in low-interest loans to homeowners and renters by the U.S. Small Business Administration, FEMA said.

Environmental groups protest $1.3 billion Shintech expansion

A coalition of 13 environmental and community groups has come out against a planned $1.3 billion expansion of Shintech facilities in Iberville and West Baton Rouge parishes.

The groups said the projects will increase cancer-causing pollution in Black communities and hinder Gov. John Bel Edwards’ efforts to reduce the state’s carbon emissions. They said the state should pivot toward cleaner industries and encourage hiring local workers to cap and clean up abandoned oil infrastructure, arguing a potential $6.6 million state grant to encourage the investment would be better spent boosting small businesses.

Officials touting the projects said they will create 30 new jobs with average annual salaries of $86,000 while helping the company to retain hundreds more workers.

“The jobs and infrastructure the company has built in Plaquemine and Addis continue to create much-needed economic development in our communities,” Shintech Vice President of Manufacturing Danny Cedotal said.

Sen. Kennedy: Mandeville getting $2.3 million for elevation projects

FEMA will dedicate $2,270,808 for four elevation projects in Mandeville, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy said.

FEMA is fully funding these elevations because they qualify as severe repetitive loss sites, the senator’s office said.

“With the amount of flooding Louisianians experience, it’s great to see this investment in reducing the cost of flood insurance and the impact of future floods on the Mandeville community,” Kennedy said.

Education department launches $1 million tutoring initiative

The Louisiana Department of Education is dedicating $1 million in seed money to provide tutoring in English Language Arts and math in school systems across the state, the department announced.

The program is designed to provide resources that will accelerate students’ learning in connection with what’s taught during the normal school day, the department said. Participating school systems will have access to supplemental lessons aligned to high-quality curriculum for students who need additional support.

In addition to the seed funding, systems may use general funds, federal funds or Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act relief to support the endeavor.

“Unfinished learning is nothing new to educators, but the pandemic has exacerbated the need to provide our children with extra help,” State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley said.