Lawmakers work to assess Hurricane Ida damage before another funding ask in Congress
WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The federal government is playing a role in recovery efforts following the devastation left by Hurricane Ida, but just how much help will come is unclear. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) says the Biden administration is coming through on its promise to provide whatever is necessary, but the full scope of what will be needed is still an unknown while the devastation is fresh.
“First you have to assess the damage,” said Cassidy. “But we are absolutely going to be all over that. I’ll also say I’ve been in close contact with the administration and they’ve pledged anything needed in order to both assist in the immediate impact and the recovery thereafter. And so far they’ve kept their word.”
Cassidy says while levees held up well and mitigated flooding, the loss of power is one of the main persisting problems for those impacted by Ida. Cassidy argues preparedness is what often dictates how devastating these storms can be.
He is touting the infrastructure package being considered in Congress which he says will help with future storms. Cassidy says by hardening the power grid, updating sewer and water systems, expanding broadband, restoring coastlines, and improving flood prevention, the bill will bring better future outcomes.
“You can’t plan years from now, you got to start planning now. This bill mitigates that risk,” said Cassidy.
Cassidy says he will also pursue a supplemental block grant funding package in Congress that would unlock more resources to help communities. He notes, however, that they are still waiting for a supplemental funding package for those in southwest Louisiana impacted by Hurricanes Laura and Delta a year ago. Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) who represents southwest Louisiana says he hopes this new storm speeds up the legislative process.
“This requires immediate attention. A category four almost a five hurricane that smashes New Orleans is exactly the kind of attention getter that D.C. responds to,” said Higgins.
Higgins was in Washington to begin the week. His district was only minorly impacted by Ida, but he says he is heading home Tuesday night to help with the recovery. Higgins is optimistic supplemental funding relating to Laura and Ida will be considered together in the coming weeks.
“Generally you can get that done within weeks of the impact of a named storm, a powerful one, if Congress works together with the executive,” said Higgins.
Lawmakers are currently on a multi-week recess. They will be voting on the federal budget when they return later in September, an opportunity to also consider supplemental funding.
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