NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Government officials and representatives of nonprofit agencies learned firsthand about potential sources of funding and technical assistance to facilitate disaster recovery and emergency preparedness in Louisiana at last week's Recovery Resource Fairs.
Hosted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding (GCR), the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) and the Office of Community Development (OCD), the four fairs in Houma, Lake Charles, Monroe and Gonzales brought funding information to more than 600 attendees.
"FEMA was excited to co-sponsor these important recovery events with our state and federal partners," said Tony Russell, acting director of the Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office. "Working together to bring all potential funding resources to the table so local officials could learn about and possibly use them is the type of collaboration and out-of-the box thinking we need to help secure a full recovery for the citizens of Louisiana."
Louisiana Recovery Authority Executive Director Paul Rainwater said, "These resource fairs provided local officials with straight talk and solid facts about the recovery dollars available through state and federal agencies. Gathered under one roof, all parties were able to engage in constructive information sharing and discussions that clarified the paperwork required by the funding process, thus streamlining our recovery."
Participating agencies included FEMA (Hazard Mitigation, Public Assistance and Environmental and Historic Preservation programs), the LRA, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Louisiana Economic Development Department and many others.
"This event has been very informative," said Harry Foster, Winn Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness director who attended the Louisiana Recovery Resource Fair in Monroe, La. "I know how hard it is to get this many resources into one place, but it is especially helpful to rural areas and smaller parishes. It's been a great event."
Jeff Coates, director of development for Greater New Orleans Disaster Recovery Partnership, found the fair a useful tool.
"It's incredibly informative. There are some national agencies that I'm learning more about and their programs. As a nonprofit representative, this shows what the federal programs and what the state programs are that we can tap into," said Coates.
During the morning sessions, agency representatives provided a brief overview of their grant funding and technical assistance opportunities, and outlined the types of projects their agency tends to support. Afternoons were reserved for 15 minute face-to-face appointments with individual agency representatives. These sessions offered elected or appointed government officials and representatives of nonprofit organizations an opportunity to ask questions and get helpful information for the recovery and/or preparedness goals of their various communities.
The information officials received at Recovery Resource Fairs was designed to bring them that much closer to completing their recovery projects and help facilitate preparedness for future emergencies.
In addition to the recent fairs, FEMA has developed and maintains approximately two dozen databases, identifying funding programs by sector, including fire departments, affordable housing, libraries, schools, economic development, parks and parkways and a number of other entities. This information is available to government official or representatives of a nonprofit agency by sending a detailed written request to Paul Bratton via e-mail at Paul.Bratton@dhs.gov.
Created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in 2005, the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) is the coordinating and planning body leading the most exten...