Lake Charles hit by four natural disasters in the last year, leaders urge federal government for more relief money

Louisiana

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KLFY) Today marks 11 months since Hurricane Laura desolated Lake Charles and Calcasieu Parish.

Community leaders say they are no where near being completely recovered and are now urging federal law makers and representatives to help their people.

In the last year, not one, but four natural disasters wreaked havoc and chaos on residents in Lake Charles and the surrounding cities.

After Hurricane Laura slammed Calcasieu Parish last August, the area then went through Hurricane Delta, Winter Storm Uri, and extreme floods in May.

Officials say their people are still struggling, and they won’t be able to recover if the federal government does not step in and provide more relief.

“Residents are still suffering after four disasters and multiple events that have caused them to rebuild their homes on more than one occasion. We need help. We need disaster relief dollars in southwest Louisiana, bottom line. Please. We plead for help,” Calcasieu Parish Police Jury President Brian Abshire said.

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter says they’ve received $16 million dollars of FEMA money, but it’s not enough.

“By the way, those are reimbursements, and there are a lot of strings attached to those dollars. When we get reimbursed from FEMA dollars, even that figure of $16 million, which is a drop in the bucket by the way, we can’t just take that money and say, ‘Ok, we’re going to go put roofs on people’s homes,'” Mayor Hunter said.

He says, however, that’s exactly what still needs to be done.

“We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and a lot of these disasters are perhaps not getting the attention that they would have if it weren’t for COVID-19. But I can tell you that all of what I just said makes not a lick of difference to the person that’s suffering here in southwest Louisiana without a roof or without air conditioning in the Louisiana summer heat. Those are the people we’re trying to help,” the mayor added.

Mayor Hunter says the time for excuses and why they haven’t gotten more relief money yet is over. He says they need to focus on what the federal government can do now to make it happen.

“Lake Charles could be hundreds of other cities along the Gulf coast or the East coast. Every community along the Gulf coast and the East coast should take a look at what’s happening here and realize it could be them next year,” he said.

“We had an unprecedented, historic string of natural disasters. I pray to God every night that’s not going to become the norm, but if it happens to Lake Charles, this year or next year it could happen to another community. And they should damn well be very concerned about the way the federal government is responding to us right now.”

Mayor Hunter estimates that around 10% of their population is still displaced.

As for all of Calcasieu Parish, 20% of residents are still unable to return to their homes, according to the Police Jury President.

Officials say whether or not their residents will be able to move back depends on the response from the federal government.

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