By Elizabeth Crisp
The White House on Thursday notified Gov. John Bel Edwards that the state of Louisiana has met its threshold to qualify for an increased match rate from the federal government for recovery efforts from the catastrophic flooding that swept the state last month.
In a letter to Edwards, President Barack Obama writes that the federal share has been increased to 90 percent, up from 75 percent, lessening the state's portion that it must pay for disaster-related obligations, including the deployment of the National Guard and funding for other state and local government recovery efforts.
Edwards, a Democrat, had requested the increased match rate shortly after flood swept across more than two dozen parishes through the southern portion of the state.
He is currently in Washington lobbying members of Congress for additional recovery assistance, including a $2 billion aid package for infrastructure, housing and economic development recovery efforts. That would be on top of the nearly $200 million that FEMA has already authorized in individual assistance for flood victims.
During an interview with The Advocate in Washington on Thursday, Edwards said he felt that meetings were going well but more work needed to be done.
"The challenge here is not just that we are trying to make our case and bring people up to speed on what happened in Louisiana -- the severity of the flooding -- but there is a timing element," Edwards said.
Congress came back this week after a seven-week recess but is expected to break again at the end of the month. The U.S. House and Senate are not scheduled to return again until Nov. 14, once the presidential race and most Congressional elections are decided.
Edwards said he currently sees opportunity for the additional funding to come through a continuing resolution or omnibus legislation.
"I feel optimistic right now that we are going to be able to get something done," he said. "We need this and we need it as soon as possible. A big part of this is just educating folks in Congress about how severe this really was."
Edwards is scheduled to continue to hold meetings today and Friday in Washington. He will also testify during a hearing on FEMA's response to the flooding
(c)2016 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.