By William Patrick | The Center Square
As Louisiana copes with the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ida, Louisiana U.S. Sen. John Cassidy said he will request expedited supplemental recovery aid from President Joe Biden as well as unapproved aid dating back last year to Hurricane Laura.
Biden is scheduled to visit Louisiana on Friday to survey affected communities with state and local leaders. Hurricane Ida – a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds – slammed into southeast Louisiana on Sunday, causing widespread power outages, flooding and billions of dollars in property damage.
“We thank President Biden for coming down to help him understand the magnitude of the situation here in southeast Louisiana this Friday. We know from bitter experience with Hurricane Laura that aid can be delayed too long,” Cassidy tweeted
“We thank the federal partners who are already here helping with the recovery, and we will ask the President once again that supplemental aid be delivered to southwest Louisiana and expedited for southeast Louisiana,” he added.
After last year’s hurricane season, members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation made repeated attempts to secure $1.1 billion in additional disaster relief to continue recovery efforts in the southwest region of the state after initial federal support for hurricanes Laura and Delta subsided.
Louisiana’s two U.S. senators and six U.S. House representatives sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget in July to prioritize the funding, which never came.
“It’s been over a year and our constituents, especially those in Lake Charles, are still suffering from the storms of 2020. Relief has taken too long,” Cassidy said.
“While I don’t represent this area, when disaster strikes we are one Louisiana,” said Rep. Troy Carter, a Democrat whose district encompasses the now-damaged city of New Orleans.
More recently, Louisiana U.S. Sen. John Kennedy filed an unsuccessful disaster relief amendment to the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that passed the Senate earlier this month.
“I gave the Senate an opportunity to help Southwest Louisiana without adding a dime to the debt, and I’m incredibly disappointed they chose not to do that,” Kennedy said.
Congressional lawmakers often seek supplemental recovery funding in the wake of natural disasters, but the appropriations process begins when the president requests the funding from Congress. Biden has not made any such request.
In an August news release, Kennedy listed five other attempts since May to obtain supplemental aid for last year’s hurricanes, including directly urging Biden to issue the request to Congress and pursing alternate means through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said she supported the disaster relief effort for southwest Louisiana but added, “that’s not my decision to make.”
Federal, state and local emergency officials are coordinating Hurricane Ida recovery efforts across southeast Louisiana, including providing basic public necessities, such as water, roof tarps and food. Cassidy said it will be a long road to full recovery.
“Damage numbers are still coming in, but it’s clear we will need supplemental assistance for Hurricane Ida. It has been over a year since Hurricane Laura, but there are still blue tarps on roofs in southwest Louisiana and families in desperate need of supplemental assistance,” Cassidy’s tweeted.
“Congress cannot continue to ignore the pleas of Louisiana families devastated by these natural disasters. Congress needs to return to [Washington] and pass a disaster supplemental package to get these communities back on their feet,” he said.