BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Lawmakers are getting Louisiana ready to take on the latest grant from FEMA that will go towards hazard mitigations. Legislation will put the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness at the helm of doling out the money.
HB1052 by Rep. Mandie Landry creates a fund that will manage those dollars. GOHSEP will disperse the money to local municipalities as low-interest loans where they will deal with their own projects and help their own residents.
“Some of it can be used to elevate homes, for example, but a lot of it is drainage, levees, larger 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 compete for the dollars. The bill creates the Hazard Mitigation Revolving Loan Fund, where the money will be deposited.
Municipalities will apply to GOHSEP who, in turn, will ask FEMA for the grant money. Some want to make sure homeowners are getting a fair cut of the loans.
“What I don’t want to see happen is we create this fund and then the local municipalities say, ‘We are going to do a, b, c, or d over here.’ It could be for drainage but it doesn’t actually help the consumer,” Rep. C. Denise Marcelle said.
The money will be given to states over the next five years and there is an opportunity for even more funds down the road. The state is still waiting to hear the exact rules and regulations of 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 demonstrate success with being able to do that and that will make the case for additional funds. So now what’s known is that $500-million will be allocated amongst the states,” said Casey Tingle, director of GOHSEP.
An advocate pointed out that hazard mitigation is crucial in fighting off the rise in insurance costs and the estimated damage from stronger, more frequent storms. The bill passed and heads on to the full House.