April 21, 2017 08:47 AM

With the April 10 funding approval letter from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Louisiana’s recovery efforts for homeowners hit by the spring and summer floods of 2016 can kick into a higher gear.

The Restore Louisiana Task Force created by Governor John Bel Edwards to coordinate the official federal, state and local disaster recovery efforts, meets Friday morning in the Capitol to get an update from involved state agencies on the effort.

You can view the agenda here.

The meeting is being streamed live. You can view it here.

Fifty-six of Louisiana’s 64 parishes were covered by disaster area declarations due to flooding in 2016. Flooding in August was severe in an area stretching from Jeff Davis Parish into southern Mississippi. Parts of Lafayette and Youngsville were hit particularly hard. Some Lafayette area homes had water in them for several weeks due to the slow decline in water levels in the Vermilion River.

FEMA dollars funded the immediate recovery effort. Only a small percentage of Louisiana homeowners are covered by the National Flood Insurance Program. The HUD money approved this month will help homeowners without that insurance to cover some of the costs they’ve incurred recovering from the flood.

The state was awarded $1.2 billion in disaster recovery funds in December. Representatives of the Louisiana Office of Community Development told members of the Louisiana Senate's Committee on Homeland Security earlier this week that the April 10 release of funding is ahead of the schedule laid out in the December announcement. In the interim, the state presented HUD a plan for getting the funds into the hands of flood victims and HUD reviewed the plan.

The state recently hired a contractor to manage the program. The project was rebid after losing contractors objected to the process. The $300 million contract was rebid and the same firm won it. IEM of North Carolina (formerly of Baton Rouge) won the contract.

The wrangling over the contract did not actually cause any delays as the federal homeowners money had not been released. The Edwards administration says the state’s ongoing financial problems prevented it from hiring a contractor to run the program until the federal funds were released.

In order to access the HUD money, homeowners are required to fill out the Restore Louisiana Homeowners Assistance Program survey.

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