- Associated Press - Friday, October 21, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Gov. John Bel Edwards bumped up his request to more than $4 billion for federal flood disaster aid to repair south Louisiana’s flood destruction, according to a letter to the White House released Friday.

The Democratic governor’s earlier request totaled $2.8 billion for the flooding in August. While he praised the federal response, Edwards said updated damage estimates have driven up the price tag.

“Our data on housing damages is getting more and more clear, impacts to small businesses are starting to come into view and we are just beginning to gather critical data relative to infrastructure damages,” Edwards wrote to President Barack Obama. “Our needs are still great.”

The money would pay for rebuilding after the August flood and an earlier March flood that struck north Louisiana. Congress would have to approve the spending. Edwards is hoping for support from the Obama administration for the request.

Louisiana already has received $438 million in disaster recovery aid from Congress, leaving about $3.6 billion of Edwards‘ request still pending.

Most of the money sought is to help homeowners, since an estimated 78 percent of homeowners with flood damage didn’t have flood insurance. Other dollars are requested to aid renters and businesses, to pay for a river diversion project and to repair roads and bridges.

The state also is asking for $600 million for water management, flood control and other projects aimed at reducing the threat of future flooding.

“I understand that this is a relatively new approach to disaster funding, but I believe the state of Louisiana is the ideal place to make this type of far reaching, long-sighted investment in the future of our communities, a future that relies less on federal assistance,” Edwards wrote.

The governor also asked for support of proposals by U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, a Lafayette Republican, to offer new and expanded tax breaks in the flood area, along with below-market mortgages.


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