Tornado victims say federal government must come through for them

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - While Gov. John Bel Edwards is in the nation's Capitol pushing for federal funds to help people affected by Tuesday's tornadoes, representatives of FEMA, the state and the City of New Orleans began making damage assessments.

On some streets, houses look like they had been hit by a bomb, and the passage of days has not erased the reality of it all.

"It's something that none of us really expected, none of us wanted, but it's something that happened and we all need help," said Albert Harris.

Harris made his way down Perelli Drive toward his sister's home. Although his own home was not spared by the ferocious tornado, his focus was on getting down the block to help his sibling.

"I guess I'm strong-minded, strong back, and I just work. Like now, I'm working," Harris said.

He said he has property insurance but still thinks the federal government should help the area.

Gov. Edwards is waging a multi-pronged battle. In addition to seeking federal help, he also wants billions more to help the state's ongoing recovery from the 2016 floods.

State Sen. Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans, represents the area hardest-hit by the tornadoes.

"The last thing people want to hear is that there's some red tape that's standing in the way of them being able to be helped. Folks don't want to hear that," Bishop said.

And Bishop said it is not just homeowners who have insurance who were affected, but also people on Section 8 and renters.

"Folks who need food need to get that [help], folks who need water need to get that, folks who need money to rebuild their homes they need to get that. They need to get that sooner rather than later, so all of the red tape and political B.S. that happens sometimes - that needs to move out of the way," he said.

Certainly the city wants a federal disaster declaration.

"Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency,  the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Governor's Office of Homeland  Security and Emergency Preparedness and the City of New Orleans are canvassing the tornado affected area in New Orleans East to conduct a preliminary damage assessment, which will allow the State of Louisiana to determine what kind of disaster assistance to request from the federal government," said Erin Burns, press secretary for Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

"We need this FEMA designation to move forward so folks can get home and try to rebuild their lives," added Bishop.

An hour before the New Orleans tornado hit, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy was interviewed by FOX 8 News about the governor's request for $2 billion more for flood relief. He said then that it wouldn't be an easy sell.

"They have to show that there's unmet need, that the dollars currently allocated are being spent and being wisely. If he can make that case, there's a possibility, but frankly it's going to be a little bit of a steep climb. But we will support however we can," Cassidy said.

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