LAKE CHARLES, La. (KLFY) — The mayor of Lake Charles is featured in the Washington Post today with an editorial accusing the federal government of not caring about the city’s recovery from two hurricanes, a winter storm and a 1,000-year flood in less than one year.
“I am the mayor of what the Weather Channel has called ‘America’s most weather-battered city,’ and many in Washington don’t seem to care,” stated Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter in this morning’s opinion piece.
Hunter’s frustration can be called well-earned. He had to watch as the U.S. Senate blocked a $1.1 billion relief bill in mid-July. He’s also still waiting on supplemental disaster aid that is usually granted within months of a disaster.
On July 27, Hunter and other local officials launched a grassroots campaign to bring awareness to Lake Charles needs on a federal level. The “Help Southwest Louisiana Now” campaign noted that Louisiana received supplemental aid within 10 days of Hurricane Katrina and 34 days of Hurricane Andrew. Aid from Superstorm Sandy came 98 days after that storm hit the eastern seaboard of the US.
Lake Charles is still waiting as the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Laura approaches — nearly 340 days later.
“Today, parts of Lake Charles resemble a war zone,” said Hunter in today’s editorial. “The total unmet housing need here exceeds $900 million. The public schools in my parish (county) alone have suffered an estimated $400 million in damage.”
Hunter said 95% of Lake Charle structures (25,000 buildings) sustained damage. Over 10,000 people remain displaced, and 60% of public housing remains uninhabitable. Meanwhile, rental costs have spiked by 22% and 21% of local businesses have failed to renew their occupational licenses for 2021.
“People here are languishing. Insurance payment delays and disputes, worker shortages and supply chain disruptions from the coronavirus have slowed progress on repairs,” said Hunter. Many people here don’t know where to turn. Some are losing hope.”