BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — It has been nearly 11 months since Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana and as the peak of hurricane season approaches agencies are working on how to respond to a disaster faster.
As of today, 4,500 trailers are in use through the state’s trailer shelter program and 3,800 are in FEMA trailers due to Hurricane Ida. About 1,700 are still in FEMA trailers around Lake Charles from Hurricane Laura.
After Ida, The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness rolled out its own trailer program that FEMA later could reimburse them for. This helped get some trailers out to people sooner – but many still had a long wait which some say bureaucratic red tape gets in the way of.
“The large scale housing programs that we need require congressional appropriation and federal rule making every time new dollars are appropriated…that doesn’t make sense,” GOHSEP Director Casey Tingle said.
The state is now working with FEMA to make that program permanent to expedite some of the trailer roll out in future disasters.
“We are preparing as if that’s a program that if we need to use it would be available to us. There’s certainly some contracting that we need to do that we can do in advance,” Tingle said. “Then what we call deactivating some of the units that are currently in use we are considering those that are feasible for our future mission.”
It also being in the state’s power means rules can be relaxed. Such as FEMA not allowing trailers to be placed in flood zones where many who lost their homes in Ida live.
“Those communities needed to have safe shelter close to their homes, many of them fish and have, you know, live on the water,” Tingle said. “And so being able to keep them close to home and community was important.”
He also said one of the main things Louisiana needs to work on to brace for these stronger storms is fortifying homes and businesses.
“Our building codes that we passed after Hurricane Katrina are making a massive difference in our communities. And our ability to withstand these storms. Unfortunately, most of the time that’s new construction,” Tingle said.
As the peak of hurricane season approaches GOHSEP encourages people to be getting prepared to have plans in place should a storm appear in the Gulf.