Southwest Louisiana recovery slow, needs help after several major storms in past year

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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KLFY) – It’s been quite a year for southwest Louisiana, suffering through two major hurricanes, a winter storm, and serious flooding.

Despite the best efforts by Louisiana lawmakers, there’s been no additional money sent down from Washington, D.C. for rebuilding.

This week, the U.S. Senate rejected an amendment to the widely-talked about federal infrastructure bill, that would have pushed $1 billion to help recovery efforts.

“I’ve seen a lot of blue tarps,” said Tameka Davis, of Lake Charles. “These people can’t afford to fix their houses. They can’t afford to fix their roof. I would say funding for them to help them out.”

The scars made by the storms show it’s been a rough year for Lake Charles. 95% of all structures were damaged. 10,000 people were displaced.

“It’s the residents. Our low and moderate-income residents who were stripped of sustainable housing by mother nature,” said Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter.

It’s also taken a toll on the economy in Lake Charles. Nearly 800 businesses did not renew their business licenses this year.

“No other American city in history has had four federally declared weather disasters in 10 months,” said Hunter.

At the Southwest Louisiana Center for Health Services, they’re still waiting for help.

“Between this building and the building behind it, 35,000 square feet of our primary, where we provide medical, dental, behavior health services, pharmacy services, was totally destroyed,” said William Brent III, CEO of SWLA Health Center.

Hurricane Laura ripped the roof off the building at the health center. It’s now gutted and will cost up to $15 million to rebuild. All services are now provided out of two small temporary trailers next door.

“I don’t know why it’s a problem to get us the disaster funds to recover and get this community back to where it needs to be,” said Brent.

Louisiana’s congressional delegation continues to beat the drum on this issue, lead by Senator John Kennedy. Kennedy says he believes the only way Congress will approve the money, to be sent to southwest Louisiana for storm recovery, is if President Biden gives it the ok. The president is very familiar with Lake Charles. He traveled there just a few months ago to pitch his trillion-dollar infrastructure plan to America.

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