Louisiana is launching a sheltering program for those “currently living in unsafe or unsanitary” conditions due to damage from Hurricane Ida, which slammed into the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 storm more than five weeks ago, officials said Monday.
The Hurricane Ida Sheltering Program will provide temporary housing to those in parishes heavily impacted by Ida where other shelter options are unavailable, according to a news release from Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office, which called some storm survivors’ living conditions unacceptable.
The housing options may include hotels, base camps, crew barges, or recreational vehicles, including travel trailers that typically hitch to an existing vehicle, the release said. The “non-congregate” options are intended to help reduce the risk of Covid-19 while allowing individuals and families to live as close as possible as they repair their damaged homes, according to the governor’s office.
Hurricane Ida roared ashore near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, on August 29, packing powerful sustained winds of up to 150 mph. Hurricane-force winds extended 50 miles from Ida’s center.
The storm devastated power infrastructure, leaving some residents without electricity for weeks, and sent a life-threatening storm surge through the low-lying region.
At least 22 people died in Louisiana and Mississippi as a result of Ida’s wrath, officials have said.
Many parishes along the coast reported overwhelming devastation.
In Lafourche Parish, which includes Port Fourchon, about 14,000 were left without homes following the storm, which damaged or destroyed 75% of the structures there, parish President Archie Chaisson said last month.
In nearby Grand Isle, about 40-50% of homes were wiped away, according to Bryan Adams, director of Jefferson Parish Fire Services.
“I’ve never seen it look like this. It’s decimated,” Adams said after surveying the storm’s ruins.
The state sheltering program is designed to “complement, not replace,” other housing options such as travel trailers, hotels and mobile homes offered through FEMA, the governor’s office said, noting that while the program is funded through FEMA, it is run entirely by the state.
“Housing is the biggest challenge facing those affected by this devastating storm, and our state-run sheltering program is a safe, creative, temporary solution to get more people closer to their homes as they rebuild,” Edwards said in the news release. “I’m grateful to FEMA’s flexibility in working with us to purchase travel trailers as an interim solution to help survivors while other efforts, including work by FEMA, are ongoing.”
The announcement comes after FEMA said last week that it had no timeline to deliver trailers to Ida’s hardest-hit areas.
“FEMA officials are working with parish governments to determine how many mobile homes will be sent to Terrebonne and Lafourche. No timeline has been set,” FEMA Assistant External Affairs Officer Debra Young said in an email Thursday.
FEMA has provided $670 million in grants directly to survivors in Louisiana for needs not covered by insurance, Young said. FEMA is also providing money to help with short-term housing needs through measures like rental assistance to help people relocate and home repairs. Young said FEMA has paid for hotel stays for more than 3,200 households specifically in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.
According to Young, the US Small Business Administration has approved $251.5 million in home disaster loans to 5,435 homeowners and renters.
“In Terrebonne Parish, FEMA has provided more than $67.2 million in grants to 29,293 homeowners and renters. In Lafourche Parish, FEMA has provided more than $52.5 million in grants to 24,077 homeowners and renters,” she said.
Those whose homes were destroyed or are currently unlivable can begin registering for the state program by visiting www.Idashelteringla.com or calling (844) 268-0301, the governor’s office said.
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