Congressman Graves criticizes La. flood recovery efforts; many s - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Congressman Graves criticizes La. flood recovery efforts; many still have not filled out survey

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

One year after the flood, Congressman Garret Graves expressed criticism of the rate of recovery, suggesting Louisiana officials could be doing more.

"We still have people that are living in gutted homes, that are living in tents, that are living in trailers, and in conditions that are less than satisfactory," Graves said.

He added much of his frustration centers on how long it is taking for that $1.3 billion from the federal government earmarked for homeowners to be distributed.

So far, the state has doled out just over $3 million of that. Those dollars can be used to help homeowners rebuild or even reimburse them for work that has already been completed.

"I am concerned about the rate of funds going out the door," Graves said.

The head of the state’s recovery efforts, Pat Forbes, said they hope to step up the pace of distributing the funds in coming weeks.

However, there is still a big roadblock. The only way people can get those grant dollars is if they complete a survey through the state, and so far, the response rate has been low.

“There are probably at least 16 thousand households that could be eligible for assistance right now that have not completed the survey,” said Forbes, who serves as the executive director of the Office of Community Development.

Overall, about 38,000 people have finished the form, representing only a fraction of the more than 100,000 homes damaged by the flood. The state has tried billboards, TV advertisements, and even has representatives going door-to-door to get people to sign up.

“We want to reach everybody that we have assistance for. If they need it, we want to get it to them. The first step in that is filling the survey out,” Forbes said.

Only about 21,000 homes are expected to be eligible for the aid currently available, leaving tens of thousands still without assistance. In order to expand the pot, the state needs more money from the federal government.

However, Graves warned that if more homes do not start getting assistance, Congress will likely be less willing to give the state more funding to help with recovery efforts going forward.

The Restore LA survey, which is the first step to getting flood assistance, can be found here.

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