BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Lawmakers are preparing Louisiana to accept the latest grant from FEMA that will go towards risk mitigation. The legislation will put the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness in charge of distributing the money.
HB1052 by Rep. Mandie Landry is creating a fund to manage those dollars. GOHSEP will distribute the money to local municipalities in the form of low-interest loans where they will take care of their own projects and help their own residents.
“Some of it can be used to raise houses, for example, but a lot of it is drainage, levees, bigger projects. It is basically free and clear for the state to decide who it goes to,” Rep. Landry said.
The money is coming through the STORM Act, and interested states will be competing for dollars. The bill creates the Revolving Loan Fund for Risk Mitigation, where the money will be deposited.
Municipalities will approach GOHSEP, which in turn will apply to FEMA for the grant money. Some want to make sure homeowners get a fair share of loans.
“What I don’t want to see happen is that we create this fund and then the local municipalities say, ‘We’re going to do a, b, c or d here. It might be for drainage, but it doesn’t actually help the consumer,” said Rep. C. Denise Marcelle.
The money will flow to states over the next five years, and there is potential for even more funding in the future. The state is still waiting to find out the exact rules and regulations on how this money can be spent. But lawmakers want to pass this bill now to make sure Louisiana is first in line to get those dollars.
“We’re going to show success in being able to do that and that will make the case for additional funding. So now what we know is that $500 million will be split between the states,” said GOHSEP Director Casey Tingle.
A lawyer pointed out that risk mitigation is crucial to combat rising insurance costs and estimated damage caused by stronger and more frequent storms. The bill is passed and goes to the whole House.