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Letís all help Southwest Louisiana Now

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Originally published in the American Press, 8/3/2021

Three weeks from now, one year will have passed since Hurricane Laura slammed our area.

The Chamber SWLA and other community organizations joined elected officials and community leaders July 27 for a community support rally to push the message that time has long past for our region to receive federal supplemental disaster relief funding. The campaign is “Help Southwest Louisiana Now.”

As the voice for business, representing over 1,200 businesses, a majority of which are small businesses, our top legislative priority at the Chamber SWLA is securing the $3 billion Federal Disaster Recovery Funds as requested by Gov. John Bel Edwards and supported by local officials. This funding is urgently needed especially to fund affordable housing and hardening of our infrastructure. Business is making a comeback but can’t reach full potential without additional federal recovery funding so our workforce will have housing and can return.

SW La. is vital to our nation in supplying energy, chemicals, fuels, and agricultural and forest products.

We are especially pleased to have the support of the U.S. Chamber in these efforts. Neil Bradley, executive vice president, chief policy officer of the U.S. Chamber said:

“In the past 15 months, the Southwest Louisiana region has been impacted by four federally declared weather disasters (Hurricane Laura, Hurricane Delta, Winter Storm Uri and a 1,000-year rain event). This is simply unprecedented. As residents and employers work to rebuild and recover it is critical that Congress and the administration ensure an appropriate level of federal disaster relief is available without delay. Prior Congresses and administrations have come together quickly in response to past natural disasters — like Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Sandy — and The US Chamber urges President Biden and Congress to do so now for Southwest Louisiana.”

According to the campaign news release,“the total unmet housing need for the state exceeds $900M from Hurricanes Laura, Delta and Zeta, and this figure was calculated before the Winter Storm and May 17 flood. Within the city of Lake Charles alone, housing damages are estimated at $235M, less than 13 percent of residential buildings have pulled permits to begin reconstruction or rehabilitation, 60 percent of public housing is still offline, average rental costs have risen by 22 percent, and 21 percent of businesses have not renewed occupational licenses for 2021. Sowela and McNeese enrollments are both down by 9 percent due to weather disasters. Calcasieu Parish School Board enrollment is down by 14 percent. Thousands in Southwest Louisiana are living in unsustainable and unhealthy housing. Local government, non-profits and faithbased organizations have continuously expressed the need for supplemental disaster aid but to no avail.”

As a community, we need everyone who cares about Southwest Louisiana and the people who live here to add your voice as we plea to the White House and Congress to provide federal disaster relief to the only region in the country to experience five federally declared disasters over the past 15 months. It’s historic and unprecedented, and the need is urgent.

Write letters to Congress and President Biden. Spread the word via social media, letters to the editor, and word of mouth. And invite your friends, family and business connections in other states to participate. If you have not viewed the powerful six minute video, we urge you to do so, then share this video with your contacts.

For more information, to view the campaign elements or sign and submit a letter of support, visit www. rebuildingswla.com.

Let’s act today for all of our area residents who need help now.

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