NEW ORLEANS, La. -- In the 12 months since hurricanes Gustav and Ike wreaked havoc on portions of south Louisiana, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), working closely with the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) and the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA), has provided nearly $1.1 billion to help residents, local governments, nonprofits and businesses which are now well on their way to recovery.
"Having to recover from two storms that occurred virtually back to back has been a challenge. But as the first anniversaries of both Gustav and Ike draw near, one of the things on which we can reflect is the significant progress that continues to be made and the dignity, courage and character displayed by the people of Louisiana as they have struggled to rebuild their lives and communities," said Tony Russell, acting director of Louisiana's Transitional Recovery Office. "FEMA is committed to the recovery of these communities and is working closely with its federal, state and local partners to ensure that Louisiana families get back on their feet."
"By using lessons learned from Katrina and Rita, by being more prepared and by working together with our federal and local partners, we have been able to respond quickly to the needs of our citizens after hurricanes Gustav and Ike," said Paul Rainwater, LRA executive director. "These storms affected every region of the state, and we remain committed to seeing that all Louisiana is rebuilt safer, smarter and stronger."
Immediately after the disasters, FEMA held community meetings and set up 53 Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) across the state. The DRCs met the need for more personal one-on-one, face-to-face assistance. They also made it easier for residents by providing them with a single location at which they could obtain answers to a wide variety of questions about FEMA, SBA disaster loans and other state and federal programs. The fact that all DRCs have now been closed is just one of the signs that recovery is well underway.
Because housing is always a top priority following any disaster, FEMA partnered with the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP), offering up to 18 months of rental assistance and intensive case management to more than 6,000 families displaced by Gustav and Ike. In addition, 1,100 households were housed in hotels or motels, and another 635 were leased into mobile homes or park models for longer term housing needs.
Also, $280.5 million in Individual Assistance funding was provided to 83,443 residents to help with their recovery efforts. From providing rental assistance to offering personal property grants, from assisting with transportation to helping with medical and dental expenses, FEMA has been working to help disaster victims recover as quickly as possible. An additional $1.4 million in Louisiana Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) was provided to eligible residents who lost their jobs because of Gustav or Ike, enabling them to continue to care for their families.
FEMA understands that helping communities recover requires providing assistance, not only to families, but also to the infrastructure that supports those families. For that reason, $494 million has been obligated for debris removal and emergency protective measures. In addition, more than $114.3 million has been obligated for permanent work. Included in this amount is funding to repair or replace facilities such as schools, police and fire stations. The sooner these buildings are up and operational, the sooner families with children can return to their neighborhoods and police and fire personnel can help ensure those families' safety.
In times of disaster, SBA disaster loans are the federal government's primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disas...