DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - The head of the federal government's housing department visited the flood zone Thursday.
Secretary Julian Castro with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) met with Gov. John Bel Edwards early in the morning and then headed to Denham Springs, where he met with Mayor Gerard Landry and toured damage in the city.
They toured several housing developments, particularly the housing authority on Eugene Street. Castro said his department will be providing technical assistance and working closely with FEMA to make sure that urban housing recovers as quickly as possible.
Castro said he wanted to see the area because HUD is going to provide technical assistance to rebuild housing.
"There's no question that this is a long-term recovery," Castro said. "And so you know, I think it's going to be some months before units like this are back up and running. But we're going to do everything that we can to make sure that we hit our mark at HUD and that folks are able to get back into their homes as soon as possible."
"We need to get these units back up and running as quickly as we possibly can. He assured me that they will," said Landry.
In terms of financial assistance, Castro says it will up to congress to determine if Louisiana will get any kind of homeowner aid package, similar to the one provided after Hurricane Katrina.
"HUD has already provided some technical assistance on the drafting of that kind of legislation. But we can't, I cannot make any kind of commitment on that right now because that is congress's call," Castro said.
Castro also visited the disaster recovery center inside New Hope Church in Baton Rouge, where he spoke with Mayor Kip Holden about the recovery efforts.
Holden expects HUD to play a big role as homeowners get back on their feet.
"The housing part and finding homes for people who are out of those houses, that's the top priority for all of us, and then trying to make sure we can get them back to work," Holden said.
CONTINUING COVERAGE: 2016 Historic Flooding