Governor Jindal Requests 100% Federal Cost-Share for Disaster Declarations
The Honorable George W. Bush
Through: Mr. William Peterson
RE: Request for 100% federal cost share
Dear Mr. President:
As you are aware, Louisiana is reeling from the third catastrophic disaster in as many years with today’s landfall of Hurricane Gustav. No state has ever had to deal with such incredible losses and human suffering over such a short period of time. Our State government is burdened, and our parishes and local governments – many of whom are still struggling to overcome the challenges that remain from the recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 – are simply unable to shoulder the tremendous financial impact of Hurricane Gustav at this time. For this reason I am hereby requesting that the cost-share associated with FEMA’s delivery of both Category “A” and “B” Public Assistance (for debris removal and emergency protective measures, respectively), as well as expenses related to Direct Federal Assistance being provided during the disaster response and early recovery period, be adjusted to 100% federal cost-share.
The consequences of Gustav make the cost-share adjustment I am requesting not only reasonable, but a necessity. Consider the following:
· Sustained winds of over 115 miles per hour impacted our coastline for many hours; hurricane-force winds reached as far north as Alexandria, Louisiana;
· There are extensive reports of power outages, flooded and blocked roadways, debris-strewn communities, and heavily impacted housing including single family residences, devastated mobile homes and travel trailers provided by FEMA in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, many of which must now be removed and/or disposed of and replaced before Louisiana residents can return;
· The storm surge from Hurricane Gustav devastated our coastline and caused a surge in a number of our rivers causing flooding to situated communities;
· We have received reports of extensive flooding in many of the most heavily impacted areas. The remnants of Hurricane Gustav stalled over Louisiana for several days and inundated nearly every Parish, some with as much as 30 inches of rain;
· 1.9 million Louisiana citizens were evacuated as a result of Gustav (the largest evacuation in U.S. history), with the populations of 17 parishes being placed under mandatory evacuation orders; it is estimated that nearly 95% of south Louisiana’s population has been evacuated;
· More than 82,000 residents from South Louisiana have taken shelter in 8 states
· Hurricane Gustav has had some of its most profound impacts on jurisdictions still reeling from the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, including St. Bernard Parish, the City of New Orleans, Plaquemines Parish, and Cameron Parish. Many of these jurisdictions were struggling to pay their bills, retain economic base and re-establish lost populations after the 2005 storm season, and some are still teetering financially (or were even on the verge of insolvency even before the storm).
· Some 7,000 airmen and soldiers were activated from the Louisiana National Guard, who are providing security, logistics, and other critical services across much of south Louisiana;
· Police, fire, and EMS workers from across the state – including many in areas receiving the hundreds of thousands of evacuees from the coast – are responding heroically to our state’s needs, but incurring extraordinary (but reasonable) costs in the process.
· Due to the effects of this disaster, 10,372 civilian personnel and 16,000 National Guard troops from 29 states have been mobilized for service in Louisiana thru the interstate Emergency Management Assistance Compact;
· As outlined in my application for a Presidential Declaration for Individual Assistance, the State has committed extensive resources in response to this disaster and continues to increase that commitment;
· The storm tracked the main transmission lines of the state electrical system resulting in every parish in the state experiencing some degree of power outage which ranged from 20%-100%; the damage to the system caused by this storm is greater than that caused by Katrina; the state-wide customer base is approximately 1.9 million customers; the storm affected 1,313,902 or 66% of the customer base; as of the writing of this letter, 43% or 864,462 of our citizens are without electricity; it is estimated that it will require another three to four weeks to bring the system back to 100% capacity.
While the damages caused by Hurricane Gustav are in themselves devastating, the devastation comes from our inability to sustain economic momentum. All oil and gas production off the Louisiana coast was ceased because all production wells were shut-in in preparation of the storm. Additionally, all refining in the southern part was stopped. The lack of electrical power has raised the spectrum of shortages of food, gas, health care and other critical support functions in the affected communities across the State. These circumstances cannot but negatively affect our key economic activities, namely oil and gas, transportation and farming. Our seafood and fisheries industry will undoubtedly be negatively impacted for some time as a result of this storm. Businesses cannot open and our State and local tax base will decline as we continue to experience the aftermath of Katrina/Rita.
I want to thank you for your continued support for the State of Louisiana during these trying times the state continues to struggle to regain its economic base after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, we are now faced with another devastating blow to our economy by Hurricane Gustav. This unto itself should justify a cost-share adjustment to 100% federal for Categories “A” and “B” Public Assistance and Direct Federal Assistance for the life of this disaster. Your approval of 100% federal reimbursement for Categories “A” and “B” Public Assistance and Direct Federal Assistance for the life of this disaster would go a long way toward promoting a rapid recovery across our state. Should you have any questions or care to discuss this request further, please contact Mark Riley, the State Coordinating Officer for this disaster.