The following is a news release from the Office of the Louisiana Governor:

BATON ROUGE — Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) officially released the $1.6 billion in flood recovery funds appropriated in 2016.  In an email to the Office of Community Development, HUD indicated that the state can immediately begin to withdraw funds for flood recovery.  The state will immediately begin to use the funds to conduct environmental reviews based on survey responses that began from flood victims.  As of today, more than 4,200 homeowners had completed the survey.

“The process for drawing down the flood recovery funds is long and sometimes overly burdensome,” said Gov. Edwards.  “While it is often frustrating that we can’t get assistance to homeowners quicker, we are able to immediately move forward with our recovery plans.  The fact that these funds were secured at such a record pace is a testament to what we can accomplish when we all – the Louisiana congressional delegation and myself – work together for the people of our state. I look forward to continuing that effort as we seek an additional $2 billion to provide assistance to even more homeowners across the state.”

In October, Gov. Edwards requested that HUD work with the state to reduce or eliminate the need for costly individual environmental reviews on single family homes eligible for federal repair grants – a request that could save Louisiana more than $105 million dollars in disaster assistance and expedite the rebuilding process for homeowners.  While that waiver has not been granted, and until legislation is proposed to solve this problem, the state will immediately begin conducting these reviews.

A copy of the email approval from 4:00 p.m. today from HUD authorizing the release of the funds is available by clicking here.