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Congressman Garret Graves

Representing the 6th District of Louisiana

OPINION | Editorial: Another reason to give thanks

November 24, 2017
In The News

Thoughts this time of year often focus on reasons for which we should feel thankful -- family, shelter and wellbeing, among others. Residents in south Louisiana may need to add another item to that list.

Would you believe it’s the efforts of a few folks in Washington, D.C.?

The news that the White House Office of Management and Budget will ask for disaster supplemental appropriations, which include $12 billion for flood mitigation projects and another $1.235 billion for the school repairs not covered by FEMA, is a huge reason to give thanks.

The funds would be doled out through the Community Development Block Grant program and the Hurricane Education Account.

Possible beneficiaries to this legislation include the long-awaited Comite River Diversion Canal, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has all but written off the books. The plan offered by the White House would possibly help with the completion of the project, which has been on the drawing board since the 1980s.

The funding package would also help with millions of dollars in flood-related school repairs for Livingston, East Baton Rouge and Ascension parishes. The money would help the parishes get past the FEMA-driven logjam on the $500,000 per building deductible which would cripple most school systems.

In addition, a bipartisan bill by Congressmen Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, and Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, would also waive the so-called “Duplication of Benefits” ban in which many residents who were urged to seek SBA loans were later told they could not qualify for FEMA grants.

The legislation would serve as a huge breakthrough for many residents whose comeback efforts have been slowed to a crawl because of the absurd regulation.

The asterisk on this whole equation is that it still awaits federal approval, but the concurrence by President Trump serves as an indication that south Louisiana still has a fighting chance for more help with what will be a long recovery process.

Disasters in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico have made Louisiana’s flood plights of 2016 seem like a distant memory. But we should give thanks that we have representation on Capitol Hill – from both sides of the floor, in fact – who continue to fight for us.

It’s good to know a few people in Washington still care.