Flood Victims Speak Before Senate Small Business Committee
The squeaky wheel gets the grease, that's the theory behind a Senate Committee hearing yesterday sponsored by Louisiana Senator David Vitter. Senator Vitter invited several Louisiana flood victims and business owners to testify before the Small Business Committee in an effort to keep flood recovery in front of Washington lawmakers.
State Representative Clay Schexnayder of Gonzales not only serves the people of Louisiana in the state legislature but he was a small business owner affected by the flooding.
Flood victims go days, some weeks, without hearing back from FEMA about requests for housing or other aid. Some are told it’s on them to keep pushing for federal agencies. That’s hard since they have a lot on their plate right now.
Shexnayder related information about his own person situation and about how many of his constituents are still living in tents or taking matters of home repair into their own hands because of the slow response from FEMA.
President and CEO of the Central Chamber of Commerce, Ron Erickson Sr. was also in attendance at the hearing. In his comments reported by the Louisiana Radio Network he spoke of concerns that many residents have about having to elevate their homes.
There is absolutely no way these people are going to be able to raise their homes. We’re talking about having to raise a home five feet to the flood of record, which is over $100,000.
Another issue brought to the forefront in this hearing was how to get through the red tape and bureaucracy of government agencies. Senator Vitter advised exasperated Louisianians to contact his office directly. He suggested that you don't call just to complain but have as much specific information as you possibly can. This will aid his office in getting your personal situation addressed.
We’re a long way to correcting that, but this is another opportunity to correct that and to lay the groundwork for the help, which we’re working on, which is on the way.
The underlying theme of almost all participants in the hearing was how the lines of communication between FEMA, state, and local officials needs to be improved to expedite the recovery of this disaster.