BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Days before a second trip to the nation's capital to press for more flood recovery dollars, Gov. John Bel Edwards increased his request for federal support.
In a letter sent to President Barack Obama Monday, Edwards requested an additional $800 million for "resilient infrastructure projects implemented both locally and on a watershed-wide basis in the flood impacted areas."
That is added to the $2 billion request for estimated unmet needs for housing, economic impact and infrastructure made in a letter sent on September 2.
"We need people making the decision to go home. We need people making the decision to reopen their business and they have to be able to stay open," Edwards said during a press conference.
Those dollars would come in the form of so-called "Community Development Block Grants" (CDBG), which supplement FEMA's contribution.
"There is no doubt that there is going to be a lack of resources. And this area needs those funds to be able to close the gap, fill unmet needs after FEMA support and insurance dollars have been exhausted," said Stephen Barnes, the director of the LSU's Economic and Policy Research Group.
Those dollars could be set aside for use in home and business repair, much like they were after Hurricane Katrina. At that time, they came in the form of the Road Home program.
"You have thousands and thousands of homeowners that would like to get back in their homes, but financially simply can't do it," said Rep. Garret Graves, R-Louisiana, who has been pressing his congressional colleagues to support the call for extra money.
If approved, that grant money could also be used for infrastructure projects. In his letter, the governor indicated he would like to spend the $800 million on major projects aimed at protecting communities from future flooding.
That plan is supported by Graves.
"We've been advocating for a different approach where you come in and protect the whole water shed," Graves said. "The reality is if you elevate homes and businesses only, they're just islands. The people's cars still flood, they can't get from someone's house to the grocery store or job or what have you. It makes much more sense financially and otherwise to simply just protect the whole community, prevent the floodwaters from getting in, provide more drainage."
The governor is scheduled to head to Washington, D.C. Wednesday to continue to press lawmakers to support an emergency appropriation for Louisiana as part of the continuing resolution appropriations bill.
He is set to meet with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan as well as Senate leaders.
Edwards sent new letters to the president and Louisiana's congressional delegation Monday to thank them for everything they have done to assist the people of the state during this disaster, but also to ask for more money for recovery.
In his letter to the Louisiana congressional members, Edwards asked delegates to send letters to the president supporting his funding request. Louisiana's congressional leaders drafted a letter that each member signed and sent to the president.
CONTINUING COVERAGE: 2016 Historic Flooding