Senator Bill Cassidy held the first of five Louisiana town hall meetings Tuesday night in Livingston Parish. As WWNO’s Jessica Rosgaard reports, the audience of about 300 people asked questions about flood recovery and the policies of the Trump administration.
The focus of the meeting was flood recovery. Unable to address many specific concerns, Senator Cassidy told people to wait in the back of the room to ask their questions to officials from different agencies.
"You’re gonna have to write a letter to this address I’m gonna give you, our process and disbursement center, saying this is why I’m late with this application," was the advice given to one couple seeking assistance.
Questions ranged from elevation requirements to insurance and FEMA claims.
So far Congress has only authorized half of the 4 billion dollars Governor John Bel Edwards says the state needs. Senator Cassidy hopes additional money will be included in a bigger disaster bill that includes damage caused by Hurricane Matthew in North and South Carolina last fall -- he says the best way to get more money from Washington is to spend what’s already been allocated.
"If they see there’s a plan and the plans being implemented there’s going to be more support for future dollars - and that’s where we are with this. Our delegation is working hard to achieve this," Cassidy said.
The states plan to spend the first $400 million in recovery dollars was recently approved by HUD, with the proposal for an additional $1.2 billion under consideration.
Denham Springs flood victim Lynda Ingram isn’t confident that lawmakers in Washington understand what people in Louisiana need. "To get actual money out here to help the number of people there are that need to be helped, then you have to go back to congress and you have to get a bill passed - and you have to get a good story. I think they’ll play politics."
This report was made possible by the Louisiana Public Radio Partnership and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.