NEW ORLEANS, La.? -- In the six months since hurricanes Gustav and Ike wreaked havoc on the Louisiana coastline, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its state and local partners have been reaching out in an effort to aid those suffering from the hurricanes' devastating effects.
"There is no quick and easy way to recover from a storm, let alone two back to back. Yet, the six month anniversaries of Gustav and Ike are a time to reflect on the resiliency of the people and communities of this state; their ability to put their lives back together and continue to move forward," Tony Russell, acting director of Louisiana's Transitional Recovery Office, said. "FEMA does not lead this effort, but rather is an engaged partner with federal, state, local, tribal and non-governmental organizations to provide the means to accomplish it-every step of the way."
With an influx of $809.5 million in federal funds-more than $4.4 million per day-residents, local governments, nonprofits and businesses are well on their way to recovery.
"When hurricanes Gustav and Ike hit, Louisiana was still recovering from hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Many of our residents' resources already were stretched thin. The federal assistance provided to our citizens through the Disaster Housing Program, which was extended to allow compassionate transitions into the private sector, has been critically important. The Individual Assistance program has been vital in helping our people replace personal and material losses," Louisiana Recovery Authority Executive Director Paul Rainwater said. "Through the Public Assistance program, schools and critical infrastructure are being repaired or replaced. And we've removed nearly 10 million cubic yards of storm debris. Although there is yet work to be done, we've made much progress in restoring our people and our state in the wake of these storms."
FEMA has responded to the needs of Louisiana residents by helping 82,387 individuals and families with $268 million in grants for housing and to replace personal property, medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs. FEMA's Community Relations Teams went into devastated communities, sometimes even by boat, to make sure that every individual in need of help was aware of the assistance being offered.
To meet the need for more personal one-on-one, face-to-face assistance, FEMA held community meetings and set up 53 Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) across the state; all have been closed. These one stop shops made it easier for those suffering from the effects of hurricanes Gustav and Ike because, in one single location, they could find answers to a wide variety of questions about FEMA and other state and federal programs.
Realizing that housing is always a top priority following any disaster, FEMA partnered with the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) to provide the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP), offering up to 18 months of rental assistance and intensive case management to more than 16,000 families displaced by Gustav and Ike. In addition, 200,000 households were housed in hotels or motels, and another 414 have been leased into mobile homes or park models for longer term housing needs.?
Disasters, though, impact not only individuals and families, but whole communities. They damage government buildings, infrastructure and all the things that make a community livable. To that end, FEMA has obligated $348.7 million for debris removal and emergency protective measures. In addition, more than $17.8 million has been obligated for permanent work. Included in this funding are repairs or replacements of buildings such as schools to enable families with children to return to their neighborhoods and police and fire stations to help ensure the safety ...