Louisiana lawmakers approve up to $350,000 for veteran flood victims

Louisiana lawmakers approve up to $350,000 for veteran flood victims

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - On a mobile device? Click the link for additional features - http://bit.ly/2cFM3lH

State lawmakers have stepped up to help thousands of Louisiana veterans whose homes were devastated by the historic flooding in August.

It takes a lot to knock down a soldier. They are trained to fight and protect. The statues outside of the Magnolia Care Center Veterans Home shifted during the August floods. So were the lives of eight veterans who lived there.

Byron Comeaux, a veteran and owner of the home, said the water came up so fast they left with the clothes on their backs.

"The damage in here, to us, was like taking away everything you worked so hard to accomplish, in a matter of minutes," Comeaux said.

Four feet of water ruined floors, walls, and furniture. Comeaux said the veterans who live there need constant care. Right now, he said, they are desperate to get back to what they know as normal.

"They are specific. When are we going back home? How long is it going take to get back home," Comeaux said.

RELATED: Veterans forced to relocate during the flood

Comeaux has been working hard to make that happen, but funding from the government has been tight. You can imagine how hard it has been for veterans trying to do the same in their homes. Louisiana Secretary of Veteran Affairs Joey Strickland puts it into perspective.

"All of a sudden they are activated, because of their guard status they get shipped out to Afghanistan making $30,000 a year, which sets them back. They come back home and resume their job and they are just getting well financially and all of a sudden they are under water," Strickland said.

Upon realizing that need, Strickland proposed that the Louisiana legislature allows the Military Family Assistance Fund, which supports guard units overseas, to be used to help veterans who flooded.

Since no Louisiana guardsmen have been recently deployed, he said that money has built up. To date, Strickland said, the state has given out nearly $50,000 in help to veterans. On Friday morning, the office was authorized to award up to $350,000.

"All [the veteran] has to do is show us his DD214 with an honorable discharge, show us their FEMA number and we cut the check," Strickland said.

Back at the Magnolia home, Comeaux is working under weathered symbols of liberty and freedom, but his spirit has not waived.

"We are going to fly these flags until we open up," Comeaux said.

Comeaux said that could be as soon as next month.

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