Gov. Edwards Going Back To Washington To Lobby For Flood Aid

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Gov. John Bel Edwards is off to Washington to lobby for more federal aid for Louisiana's recovery from March and August flooding.

         Louisiana has received $438 million in disaster block grant assistance from Congress, but the Democratic governor is asking for a total of $4 billion.

         Edwards hopes to get the money included in budget legislation needed to avoid a government shutdown, before President Barack Obama leaves office. The Obama administration supports Louisiana's request for additional aid.

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         People in Louisiana need to know how much assistance is available as they decide whether to "return to their home or reopen their business," the governor said. "It would be wonderful if we did not have to go back to Congress again to try to take care of these needs."

         He's scheduled to meet Thursday with Louisiana's congressional delegation, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers and Senate Appropriations Committee members.

         Louisiana is planning to spend the congressional aid already received on repairs to flood-damaged homes owned by elderly and disabled residents in low- to moderate-income households.

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         The Edwards administration estimates the plan would cover repairs to about 4,000 homes — a fraction of the estimated 112,000 homes damaged or destroyed by the March and August floods. Final details still are being worked out and will need approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a step the governor said won't be a stumbling block.

         "We feel very confident that our approach is fully consistent with what HUD is looking for us to do," Edwards said.

         The administration estimates payments to eligible homeowners will begin in the spring.

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         While in Washington, Edwards also plans to attend a National Governor's Association meeting for new governors and to speak at the Google Summit on Justice Reform about bipartisan efforts to change Louisiana's criminal justice laws.

         Edwards is scheduled to return Friday, according to his office.

         – by AP Reporter Melinda Deslatte



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