By William Patrick | The Center Square
Gov. John Bel Edwards announced a new Hurricane Ida sheltering program Monday that will provide temporary housing and travel trailers for Louisiana residents in storm ravaged areas.
Hurricane Ida made landfall Aug. 29, but many residents have been living in substandard conditions ever since because of bureaucratic delays associated with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Instances of individuals and families sleeping in tents and automobiles have circulated on social media more than one month after Ida damaged or destroyed their homes. In hard-hit Terrebonne Parish, about 10,000 residents have requested FEMA trailers that have yet arrive.
Edwards said Monday that FEMA authorized the Louisiana Hurricane Ida Sheltering Program to expedite help. The program will be funded by the federal agency and run by the state.
“There is no doubt that there are people currently living in unsafe or unsanitary housing because of Hurricane Ida, which is not acceptable,” Edwards said. “Housing is the biggest challenge facing those affected by this devastating storm, and our state-run sheltering program is a safe, creative, temporary solution to get more people closer to their homes as they rebuild.”
The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOSEP) will administer the program. Edwards said the first state-owned travel trailers could arrive in designated parishes within the week, depending on delivery logistics and access to location sites.
“I’m grateful to FEMA’s flexibility in working with us to purchase travel trailers as an interim solution to help survivors while other efforts, including work by FEMA, are ongoing,” Edwards said.
The state program is designed to complement, not replace, FEMA housing assistance, which includes traditional FEMA trailers, mobile homes and hotel stays. The Louisiana program also will include hotels, as well as recreational vehicles and crew barges.
Edwards said the sheltering program is intended to reduce congregate living in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Rep. Tanner Magee, R-Houma, has been an outspoken critic of FEMA amid his efforts to coordinate a state-level response to the post-Ida housing crisis in southeast Louisiana.
“This the first time [FEMA] has permitted such a program, and I’m grateful it is showing some flexibility and recognized the shortcomings of the existing programs and plans,” Magee said on Twitter, adding the first FEMA trailers are scheduled to arrive sometime in November.