Louisiana citizens were dealt two massive blows from Mother Nature in 2016 when a pair of catastrophic floods led to loss of life and billions of dollars in property damage. The Red Cross called the August flooding in Louisiana “the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Superstorm Sandy,” and numbers from a recent LSU statewide poll reinforce this statement.
The statewide survey results include:
- 18% of Louisiana residents reported their homes flooded during the 2016 storms
- 32% of residents in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area reported their homes flooded during the 2016 storms.
- 30% of Louisiana adults reported the flood disrupted their employment, while 19% reported the disruption affected their earnings.
- 52% of Baton Rouge adults reported the flood disrupted their employment, while 32% reported the disruption affected their earnings.
- 14% of Louisiana residents reported that someone who had to leave their home due to flooding stayed with them in 2016.
- 25% of Baton Rouge residents reported that someone who had to leave their home due to flooding stayed with them in 2016.
The damage inflicted by severe weather in 2016 was devastating to Louisiana residents, but Gov. John Bel Edwards’ response has unnecessarily prolonged the disaster recovery efforts. The governor has bungled the state’s flood recovery efforts since the onset, while his ineptitude has delayed thousands of Louisiana citizens from making their lives whole once again.
Nearly one in five Louisiana homes were flooded during the 2016 storms, but the governor waited until April 10 to launch a homeowner assistance survey.
Nearly one in five Louisiana homes were flooded during the 2016 storms, but the governor waited until April 10 to launch a homeowner assistance survey
The governor appeared before Congress and was accused of being “clueless” by U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, for not knowing the number of homeowners displaced by the storms.The first wave of federal money was available to distribute in February, but the state did not hire a contractor, IEM, to oversee the recovery efforts until March. Another month and allegations of corruption within the bidding process would pass until the state finally inked a deal with the original contractor.
Governor Edwards was woefully unprepared to handle the major disaster recovery effort needed by Louisiana. He wasted countless months, while Louisiana homes, schools and lives remain broken.
Below is the timeline of flood-related events.
- March – Nearly 5,000 homes damaged by flooding from heavy rains, especially in North Louisiana. Four deaths reported.
- August 11-15 – Accumulations of rainfall at its peak of over 31 inches fell in parts of South Louisiana. 13 deaths reported. Hundreds of thousands of homes and vehicles damaged or destroyed. Billions of dollars in total flood damage.
- August 11 – Edwards in Aspen, CO for Democratic Governors Convention, but does not order evacuation in Louisiana. The Advocate reported Edwards would be back in Louisiana Friday afternoon (Aug. 12), but The Hayride points out that Edwards’ actual arrival time back home isn’t confirmed.
- August 15 – Edwards tours flood affected areas – Lafayette, Iberia, Vermillion and Ascension parishes.
- September 28 – Congress passes Continuing Resolution funding measure, providing $437.8 million for flood victims
- October 13 – Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced Louisiana will receive $438 million in federal disaster aid
- October 20 – Governor Edwards sent letter to President Obama requesting $3.3 billion in additional relief money.
- October 28 – Governor Edwards sends same ask of $3.3 billion to Congress
- November 21 – HUD Federal Register notice published for first tranche of money ($437.8 million).
- December 8 – Congress provides $1.243 billion in the Continuing Resolution funding measure for flood relief.
- January 6 – State submits plan for first tranche of relief money ($437.8 million)
- January 18 – HUD Federal Register notice published for second tranche of money ($1.243 billion)
- February 14 – State plan for $437.8 million approved by HUD
- February 24 – State submits plan for second tranche of relief money ($1.243 billion)
- Early March – The state awarded the flood recovery contract to IEM.
- March 17 – State announces it has fired contractor after the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors accepted the recommendation of its attorney, convicted felon Larry Bankston, that questioned the top two bidders (IEM & PDRM) failed to obtain necessary licenses.
- Corruption: Larry Bankston’s son Ben works for a company (DRC) associated with Sullivan Group, the third-place finisher for the initial flood contract.
- In October of 1996, Bankston, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was indicted on five counts of racketeering. He was found guilty of two of those counts in 1997. Given a 41-month prison sentence and a $20,000 fine.
- March 31 – State plan for $1.243 billion approved by HUD.
- April 5 – Edwards appears before House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, embarrasses himself.
- Unable to cite number of homeowners still displaced, is unprepared to answer questions from Congress.
- “You know how bad that looks right?” House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah asked. “You’re that clueless?
- April 10 – Restore Louisiana flood relief online survey opens – “the first step toward applying for recovery assistance” at restore.la.gov.
- April 13 – IEM is awarded Louisiana flood recovery contract for a second time.
- May 16 – The state hosts a series of events to help flood-affected homeowners complete the survey required to apply for the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program.
- May 17 – LSU statewide survey reveals staggering effects of 2016 storms.
- May 18 – Louisiana receives an additional $51 million in federal flood recovery dollars from HUD.
- May 31 – Homeowners begin receiving reimbursement checks for work that’s already been done. Over nine months since the August 2016 floods and over a year since the March 2016 floods.