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Office of the Governor State of Louisiana John Bel Edwards

P.O. Box 94004 Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804-9004
(225) 342-7015

August 23, 2016

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I would first like to thank you for visiting Louisiana and for the support your administration is giving to our state in this time of great need. As Louisiana rebuilds from this catastrophic and historic flooding event, our federal partners have been responsive to all our requirements. In particular, I want to express my appreciation for the work done by administrator Fugate and his team at FEMA. From the very beginning of this event, FEMA has been by our side and I am confident this cooperation will continue through our recovery.

As you know, this flood event has been devastating for south Louisiana. It has resulted in destruction to homes, businesses, and public infrastructure in twenty-six (26) parishes, with twenty (20) of those parishes being included in the Major Disaster Declaration. Further, this event comes on the heels of the March 2016 flood event which saw flooding in every corner of the state and included thirty-seven (37) parishes in the Major Disaster Declaration. s in previous times of difficulty for Louisiana, our people have risen to meet the challenge and to help their friends, families, and neighbors - or even total strangers - begin the process of starting anew. While we do not doubt the ability of our citizens to recover, we need the help of the federal government. Thus, after careful consideration of Louisiana's needs, I ask that you consider the following requests.

  1. State cost share reduction. I ask you to grant Louisiana relief from the 25% costs share from this event and for the March 2016 flood event. Given the amount of destruction from both of these declared disasters, I am confident that we will exceed the threshold of $137 in damages per capita. In this event, we believe well over 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. In March, more than 29,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. Further, the damage to public buildings, roads, and bridges has been devastating. While we are still assessing damages from this flood, we know that from the March Floods we have over $20 million in damages to roads and bridges. The damage from this most event will be considerably higher. I therefore ask you to reduce Louisiana's cost share from 25% to 10%. Further, because the need to get our citizens back in their homes and communities quickly and safely is so acute, I ask that you forgive completely the state's cost share for the the Temporary Shelter Assistance (TSA) program and the shelter in home assistance available under Category B.
  2. Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds. As you know, this was a one in a thousand year flood event, and most of the affected homeowners did not, nor were required to, have flood insurance. The individual Assistance funds that will be available, while critical, will simply not be sufficient to allow our citizens to rebuild their homes. Without an appropriation of CDBG-DR funds, many neighborhoods and communities will not be able to recover. I ask that you include a supplemental appropriation in your budget request to Congress to fill the enormous gap that will exist between the available funds and the costs to rebuild. Given that we are still assessing the damage to homes, businesses, and public infrastructure, I ask that you allow me to supplement this request in short order with hard data about the needs for Louisiana. Within ten (10) days, I believe I will be able to provide you with clear information about the damage assessments and specifics about the necessary federal assistance.
  3. Hazard mitigation funds. Administrator Fugate has confirmed that this event will not cause FEMA to revisit its flood maps, and that those homes and businesses not in flood zones will not need to be elevated. This is a very welcome statement, which will allow for homeowners to immediately begin the process of rebuilding their homes. We do not plan to encourage or require homeowners to immediately begin the process of rebuilding their homes. We do not plan to encourage or require homeowners and businesses to simply build higher. Instead, I intend to focus on large scale and community based mitigation projects. One such project is the Comite River Diversion Project. This project, which was first authorized in 1994, would have diverted a significant amount of the flow of the Comite River into the Mississippi River and away from homes and businesses in East Feliciana, St. Helena, East Baton Rouge, and Livingston parishes. The Corps [Army Corps of Engineers] reports the construction plans are 95% complete. in the First Extraordinary Session of the Louisiana Legislature this year, I approved state funds to relocate utilities. Residents have paid taxes for this project for nearly 20 years. All that remains to be funded is the congressionally authorized federal share. To facilitate this request, I ask that you allocate $125 million to the Army Corps of Engineers to construct this critical flood protection project. Further, I ask that you further empower Louisiana and allow for inclusion of Work-In-Kind on this project. I also request that Louisiana be able to use recovery funds to satisfy the non-federal share of acquisitions of Land, Easements, Rights of Way, Relocations, and Disposals (LERRDS). This worthy and necessary project is only one part of the hazard mitigation plan that we intend to develop with federal funding and assistance.
  4. FHWA Emergency Highway funding. This flooding event inundated many roadways throughout southern Louisiana, affecting interstate highways, along with dozens of state, parish, and local roads. Our Department of Transportation and Development is actively inspecting all affected roads and bridges, and it is certain the infrastructure needs will be immediate and significant. To help Louisiana respond to this disaster, the Emergency Relief funding backlog must be cleared. By clearing this $724 million backlog, Louisiana would be able to receive $14 million from the March 2016 flood and up to $25 million for the most recent flooding. Further, given the backlog, I ask that you also waive the 180 day limit on Emergency Relief funds. I also request that the state be allowed to use ER funds to mitigate roadway inundation to ensure that interstate highways remain open and available, even during future flood events.
  5. Title 32 status for Louisiana National Guard. In an August 17, 2016 letter to Secretary Ashton Carter, I requested that the Louisiana National Guard be granted Title 32 USC 502(f) status for up to 2,800 Soldiers and Airmen called up in active duty in response to the flooding. I ask that you and Secretary Carter give strong consideration to this request which would allow for 100% funding of the LANG response for 30 days of service.
  6. Waiver of state cost share for Hurricane and Storm Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS). While this storm was not a named tropical system, it is a stark reminder of the destruction that could be caused if a hurricane were to strike Louisiana. To protect against such a future disaster, we must restore our coast. However, the costs to do so are enormous. Because of the funding arrangement and state share requirements for the Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity (LPV) and Westbank and Vicinity (WPV) projects, Louisiana is obligated to make approximately $100 million in annual payments to the federal government through 2048, which will result in payments of over $3 billion. These obligations are crippling to the state as we attempt to fund Master Plan projects designed to save the Louisiana coast. The 2012 Master Plan has a 50 year cost of $50 billion, and I fully expect the 2017 Master Plan to have significantly higher costs. As such, I request that you grant Louisiana a full waiver of the cost share requirements for these projects. A full waiver will allow Louisiana to spend these needed funds on coastal projects to prevent future disasters. Further, these coastal protection projects will protect the federal investments in the LPV and WPV as well as the necessary infrastructure of the oil and gas industry.
  7. Community Disaster Loan Program. While this is a program normally used for local governments, I request taht you allow FEMA to use this program to provide needed funding for Louisiana. Beause of the significant budget shortfalls I inherited from my predecessor and the low price of oil, Louisiana is in the throws of a budget crisis. Even before this disaster, we anticipated significant cash flow issues in the fall that which will be worsened and more imminent with the recent spending in response to the flood. Before this event, my administration was in consideration of floating revenue anticipation bonds to carry us through this cash flow crisis. If this loan program were to be made available to the state, Louisiana would be able to recover from this event more effectively, while at the same time getting back on sound financial footing.
  8. Recovery Task Force. In the coming days, I intend to issue an Executive Order creating a task force to oversee the recovery from this flood event. Given the need for federal help, I ask that you trigger FEMA's National Disaster Recovery Framework to assist this task force in the coordination of Louisiana's recovery. Further, I ask that you delegate members of your administration from Housing and Urban Development, Homeland Security, Transportation, Commerce, and Health and Human Services to be full participants in this task force. With meaningful participation in the planning and development of programs to assist our citizens to return to their communities, our federal partners can continue to be part of rebuilding Louisiana.

    The people of Louisiana are strong and resilient. However, the severity of this flood event, combined with the other difficulties faced in this state over the last several months, is testing our spirit in ways we have not seen since the challenges posed by Hurricane Katrina. While I know our best days remain in front of us, we need help from the federal government to get us there. I ask that you please consider all of these requests and that you encourage your administration to continue its strong support for Louisiana's recovery.

    John Bel Edwards

    cc: FEMA Administrator, W. Craig Fugate
    Senator David B. Vitter
    Senator William G. "Bill" Cassidy
    Congressman Stephen J. Scalise
    Congressman Cedric L. Richmond
    Congressman Garret N. Graves
    Congressman Charles W. Boustany, Jr.
    Congressman Ralph L. Abraham, Jr.
    Congressman John C. Fleming, Jr.

Research Reference:

FAQ No. 63    

Date: 2-3-2019 Updated: 2-3-2019 Subject:

Resources published here are segments of research projects of past, present and future. All items published will soon be in articles that tie the subject matter together for the big picture results.

Resource Research is also the way we find things out of place in our world today.

This section is completely keyword search enabled so you can find just the topic you need to support your own research projects or to assist in our research resources. We have created a simple copy link so you can embed or link to the resource if you use any segment of this section.

Keep your information open and transparent at all times. You'll find this section grows often and is currently supported by one person so if you are looking for a specific document or topic related to Disaster Recovery use the submit question.

To submit a question you are actually submitting a research resource topic. Your topic will remain offline until the research has been completed. If you have the research and it can be validated please use the contact pages first.

FAQ No. 1    

Date: 12-30-2018 Updated: 3-4-2019 Subject: How To Research

FOIA State of Louisiana OCD-DRU 5-23-2018: Request copies of any communications between the Governors Office (J.B. Edwards) and Restore Louisiana Homeowners Assistance Program related to waiving state requirements that contractors working for Restore LA or IEM Inc tasked with rebuilding, repairing homeowners homes damaged by the 2016 floods (DR4277, DR4263) be licensed and insured as per state contractors licensing board rules, regulations and state laws.

(State of Louisiana Reply)

Your public records request, dated May 23, 2018, was received by the Division of Administration on May 23, 2018. We are conducting a search for records. Once the search is finished, the records will be reviewed for privileges and exemptions. We will contact you as soon as the review is completed, and all non-exempt records will be made available to you.

Thank you,
Public Records Requests
Division of Administration
State of Louisiana

FAQ No. 2    

Date: 1-4-2019 Updated: 1-4-2019 Subject:

Requested date: 5-23-2018

As of May 11, 2018
1. Total number of households pending Homeowner Responsibility (Solution 2) and Homeowner Escrow (Solution 1).

2. Total number of LMI Households awarded CDBG-DR Grants that have closed on the grants.
Reply: State of Louisiana DOA 6-7-2018:

Reports do not currently exist that are responsive to your specific public record request. However, with respect to item 2, HUD does publish a quarterly report, the most recent of which is attached, that shows at page 8 of 49 that as of in the first quarter of 2018, 1978 grant awards to LMI households were executed, for a cumulative total of 3321.

Attachment download: Flood DRGR 1st Quarter Reports

FAQ No. 3    

Date: 1-4-2019 Updated: 1-4-2019 Subject:

Requested: 5-29-2018: Copies of Active Contracts that are listed online in the OCDDRU folder but do not have the actual contract linked.
  1. Franklin Associates, LLC Louisiana Housing Corporation 2/12/2016 6/30/2019 $7,143,250 $3,618,750 To perform environmental reviews and homeowner inspections. CDBG-DR funds represented are related to 2016 Flood Work. Other components of the contract funded through other sources.
  2. Alpha Media and Public Relations pending New Corp. 5/28/2016 7/7/2016 $33,413 $33,413 Restore LA Marketing and Outreach.
  3., LLC 192237977 Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry 3/16/2017 3/15/2018 $6,100 $6,100 ?Online grant application management system.
  4. Spears Consulting 837070833 TruFund Financial 5/15/2017 5/15/2018 $40,000 $40,000 Marketing/Public Relations spent as of 11.30.17.
  5. Start Corporation 859805285 Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals 12/1/2015 6/30/2018 $2,802,482 $2,802,482 ?To provide support services required to help individuals rebuild their lives after homelessness, institutional care or other disruptions due to the Flood of 2016. (multiple sources of disaster funding)
  6. Volunteers of America 0750049916 Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals 12/1/2015 6/30/2018 $49,999 $49,999 To provide support services required to help individuals rebuild their lives after homelessness, institutional care or other disruptions due to the Flood of 2016. (multiple sources of disaster funding)
  7. Westaff 788265564 TruFund Financial 5/4/2017 11/30/2017 $25,686 $25,686 Temp Services.
  8. Xerox Corporation 137644035 Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry 10/16/2017 6/30/2018 $988 $988 Copy machine
>>> State of Louisiana DOA OCD-DRU response.
Dated: 6-6-2018

You will be receiving, or have already received, an e-mail invitation to access a dropbox from which you will be able to access the documents referenced below.

Please click on this link to view the contracts: Dropbox Link to document download.

FAQ No. 4    

Date: 1-4-2019 Updated: 1-9-2019 Subject:

Freedom of Information Request Date: 6-1-2018: I would like to know who and what department created the webpage at this address:

I find it not useful at all and when so many public records are missing from the OCD-DRU website pages I feel this is a waste of government resources to allow to be viewed by the public.

State of Louisiana Response dated 6-5-2018:

Your public record request e-mail, dated June 1, 2018, was received by the Division of Administration on June 1, 2018. Upon review, your e-mail does not present a public records request as described in Louisiana R.S. 44:1(A)(2). As such, we are unable to provide a response.

>>>> NOTES <<<<<
Web page was removed and replaced with a redirect to the main page. The state did not acknowledge the report.

FAQ No. 5    

Date: 1-4-2019 Updated: 1-4-2019 Subject:

Freedom of Information Request dated 6-18-2018.

Copy of the OCD-DRU policy regarding NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) ICC (Increased Cost of Compliance) funds with respect to the calculation of duplication of benefits (DOB).

>> State of Louisiana Response 6-22-2018 <<

See attached manual and/or view at this link:Attached Homeowners Manual version 3.1 and download link

pages 51 to 52 of the document pertain to NFIP (building and ICC) and DOB calculation.

FAQ No. 6    

Date: 1-4-2019 Updated: 1-4-2019 Subject:

Freedom of Information Request: 6-26-2018, Copy of the "Declined SBA Award Policy".

This document is referenced in
1. "Draft ReLa Program Management Policies (Attachment VII) Page 31 of 189"
2. "Homeowners Manual version 3.1 page 52 under SBA Verification"

>>> Response State of Louisiana <<<

Date: 6-28-2018

The "Declined SBA Award Policy" is found on page 52 of the manual you refer to in your email below. This is the current policy:

"Applicants who have applied for an SBA loan but have a record of declining the loan or have not executed the SBA loan may be considered for RLHP funding, but awards will be adjusted to account for any SBA DOB. If a low to moderate income (LMI) household has declined an SBA loan, a hardship will be presumed and the SBA loan will not be considered a duplication of benefit. SBA loan declination is defined as an applicant having never executed the SBA loan documents."

When the "verification" paragraph states: RHLP Declined SBA Award Policy – it is referring to the paragraph above it in the manual (see snip image below).

FAQ No. 7    

Date: 1-4-2019 Updated: 1-4-2019 Subject:

We publish stories with the intent to help others that follow in our post disaster footprints.

Disaster victims often do not want to relive the ordeal but many that have just became victims or have been searching for answers may learn from your experiences of disasters long past. It is our goal to share with others so we all may rebuild and recover faster. Sharing experiences, post disaster experiences, from cleanup to rebuilding and all points in between. Let's document the processes each victim had to complete after the Presidential Disaster Declaration or the Emergency Declaration has been signed into action.

  • We require 600-2400 words.
    If you require additional space consider making two or more submissions which we will group together if possible.
  • Must have 2 or more pictures that have not been reduced in size or edited to change meta information.
  • Must have strong argument about issues that you have experienced.
  • You must have researched each issue, point of interest or experience declared and offer resources or sources to provide a solid foundation and weight to your experience.
  • Do not cite or copy journalists, editorials or the opinions of others. This is your experience only.
  • You allow us exclusive use of your experience article to share with all who are willing to republish your experience in it's entirety without edits or omissions.
  • We will take no longer than 10 working days to review and accept your experience article.
  • If we feel editing is needed we will return the article to you with notes.
    Our goal is to publish everyone's disaster experience.
  • Include your experience article in an email, a document attached to an email or our website form.
  • Include your disaster record number (DR), name (First,Last), street address, city, state, zip, phone, and email address.

We will use your personal information to verify your disaster experience. We will exclude your name from your article and only reference the DR number. Otherwise you must tell us you would like to release your name with your article and then clearly state what personal information you would like included in your by line.

E-mail: archive@LouisianaRecoveryAuthority.Org

FAQ No. 8    

Date: 12-30-2018 Updated: 12-30-2018 Subject: Your Story

Season 1 Ep 1

"Gross Negligence, Gross Incompetence and Willful Misconduct, Restore Louisiana Homeowners Program" the series.

Tonight's episode entitled "Gross Incompetence Elevation Costs" episode 1.

NOTE: You might find this a bit humorous, but it's actually based on documented facts of 2 groups separated by 10 years working on flood recovery projects.

Restore Louisiana Homeowners Assistance Solution 2 Reconstruction program is closing in on it's first complete home elevation and reconstruction project.

Despite being handed the full Reconstruction program policy and procedures, Solution 2 Reconstruction team is still in the beginning phases of creating Process and Procedures.

According to research, outsourced workers and management have taken nearly one year to process one homeowner and still have yet to document the steps in processing Solution 2 Reconstruction homeowners.

Historical data shows state workers employed as workers worked more efficiently than outsourced companies hired by state workers.

It was found in the year 2008 that state workers awarded 18,914 homeowners with elevation grant money using the system they called, "Simplified Award Process." Current state outsourced management (2018) refuse to follow the 10 year old proven simplified processes and are determined to make a complicate process more complicate than rocket science.

The states Simplified Award Process distributed 18,914 checks in the amount of $30,000 to homeowners in less than one year. Outsourced Solution 2 Restore Management has yet to establish procedures to determine foundation costs even after being given the procedure by the Solution 1 Reconstruction team.

Stay tuned for the onsite Solution 2 Reconstruction podcast series coming next year, maybe, if policy doesn't change.

FAQ No. 9    

Date: 12-30-2018 Updated: 12-30-2018 Subject: State Contractors

Comment: Insurance will be needed or you will get nothing. But even then you will need to know how to navigate a system that the states create to make it impossible for them to navigate. Insurance required to cover federal assistance received.

Financial disaster recovery planning team within the Administration grant funding.
OCD-DRU trainer for all county, parish, city, town planning and zoning departments for HUD compliance training.

Resource: HUD OIG Report 2013-FW-0001

>> Start snip of report page 19,20 <<

Some States Did Not Take Sufficient Steps To Protect the Invested Federal Funds

Some States did not require adequate homeowners' insurance for the homes built or rehabilitated with Disaster Recovery funds. Texas initially did not require insurance. It modified its program for the Katrina, Rita, and Wilma second allocation and, along with Louisiana and Florida, required insurance for 3 years. Alabama adopted a deed restriction that "strongly encouraged" insurance. For the Gustav, Ike, and Dolly allocation, Texas again modified its program and stated insurance was required, but its policy, like Alabama's deed restriction, stated only that failure to maintain insurance "may" impact future disaster assistance. However, Mississippi took an aggressive stance by requiring a transferable covenant that required insurance at all times. These variations occurred because HUD allowed the States maximum feasible deference in the implementation of their Disaster Recovery programs as allowed by the State CDBG program.

HUD needs to adopt a best practice to address the issue of insurance to ensure that the Federal funds invested in the assisted homes are protected in the event of future hurricanes or disasters. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, an additional 10 hurricanes and other storms have hit the States and caused damage. Further, our audit of Texas13 found that Hurricane Ike had damaged homes repaired or replaced by Katrina, Rita, and Wilma grant funds, which lacked insurance. In one extreme case shown in figures 10 and 11, an uninsured home suffered significant structural damage, and the homeowner inquired about additional disaster assistance for his recently replaced home.

The Texas audit also found that of a sample of 59 Katrina-, Rita-, and Wilma funded homes tested, 38 homes were later damaged by another hurricane or storm. Of the 38 homes, 23 did not have insurance. Based on a projection of the sample results, at least 133 of 453 reconstructed or rehabilitated homes or homes awaiting reconstruction lacked insurance and were damaged or are at risk of being damaged by another storm. The report concluded that if Texas changed and improved its action plan and policies, an estimated $60.2 million in program funds could be saved.

For Hurricane Isaac, which struck in August 2012, initial reports estimated damage to 13,000 homes in Louisiana located in the same areas previously affected by Katrina. Since Louisiana required insurance for only 3 years, there is the potential that damage had occurred to Disaster Recovery-assisted homes completed before 2009 that may lack insurance, as the State's required insurance period had expired and nothing would prevent homeowners from seeking additional Federal assistance.

>> End snip of report page 19,20 <<

FAQ No. 11    

Date: 12-30-2018 Updated: 12-30-2018 Subject: Transparency

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  • Hundreds of homeowners with SBA Duplication of Benefits may have been categorized incorrectly.

    Jonathan L.

    Hundreds of homeowners with SBA Duplication of Benefits may have been categorized incorrectly.