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Cassidy tours a FEMA center in Plaquemines Parish, hears Ida damage concerns

Some residents worry about new flood insurance rates
Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 6:36 PM CDT
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U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy tours a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center in Plaquemines Parish.
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy tours a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center in Plaquemines Parish.(Source: WVUE)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Sen. Bill Cassidy walked into a 33,000 square foot Plaquemines Parish Building in Belle Chasse to tour what is serving as a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center in the parish.

He was joined by Plaquemines Parish President Kirk Lepine and FEMA representatives.

“Folks can be separated by the curtains, so we process people right here,” Lepine told Cassidy.

And a FEMA representative said they are happy to help Hurricane Ida victims at the center.

“We’re sorry people had to go through what they did in Hurricane Ida but we’re delighted to be here to help them move on,” he said.

FEMA has also deployed teams into the field in Plaquemines Parish to reach more storm victims. Still, not all applicants qualify for FEMA funds.

Gary Sercovich is one of them.

“I applied for something, but they said no, I’m too old and I get too much money from the government,” said Sercovich.

Before the tour, Cassidy heard from Plaquemines Parish leaders about storm-related issues.

“We ran into some obstacles with the hurricane causing damage to our water system which inundated our system, caused it to have some troubling effects down the road for our southern end folks,” said Lepine.

Cassidy says the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill he helped the craft on Capitol Hill would help with water system hardiness.

“So, one thing we’ve been working on in the bipartisan infrastructure bill is what do we do about water resiliency. There’s $50 billion for water resiliency nationwide, there would be $370 million in Louisiana next year in a revolving fund to help with what I learned today,” said Cassidy.

More immediately the parish needs about 200 trailers to house residents whose homes are not livable due to hurricane damage.

“There’s a plan that came out with the state through GOHSEP, we were not included in that plan, I’m a little bit saddened that we weren’t included in that, but there’s also the plan that FEMA uses and we are in that program and we want our folks back,” said Lepine.

Cassidy said making systems more resilient is already providing beneficial in Plaquemines Parish.

“Ongoing needs for levees, for housing, for water infrastructure but I gather that parts of the parish did, the parts where we have built resiliency have done well and I think that’s one of the take-home lessons. If you build resiliency, you do well,” Cassidy stated.

Homeowners in Plaquemines are also concerned about flood insurance rates and how high they may rise under FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0 pricing methodology which took effect on October 1.

Lillian Cook talked about her concerns while loading groceries into her car not far from her home.

“To me, it’s pretty high now for me. I’m widowed and living by myself, so,” said Cook.

She says her premium is already hundreds of dollars per year. “And I’m paying $550 now, we pay and pay,” said Cook.

Cassidy says he is still pushing to get a fix for the troubled National Flood Insurance Program in Congress and he has urged President Joe Biden to halt the new rate changes.

“Working with our fellow senators and legislators, both parties, different regions, of what we can do to make this better if the president decides not to put it on hold. There won’t be a quick, easy answer,” said Cassidy.

RELATED LINKS:

La. congressmen question FEMA’s chief about hurricane response

Cassidy files bill to delay flood insurance changes; locals fear hefty rate hikes

Realtors see the impact of new flood insurance rates on home buyers; Cassidy fights back in Congress

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