Flood-impacted communities could get state loans

Published 4:18 am Saturday, December 10, 2016


Earlier this week, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that local governments are eligible for FEMA loans for lost revenue due to the March flooding.

The program is known as the Community Disaster Loan Program, and if a government lost at least 5 percent of its tax revenue due to the March floods, they can get a loan. The loans are for up to $5 million each.

Parish and municipal governments that were affected by the August flooding around Baton Rouge had already qualified for lost revenue FEMA loans. However, this is the first time community governments are eligible for loans from the March flooding.

The notice applies to all governing bodies in Washington Parish. In addition to city and parish governments, school districts, fire and law enforcement and sewer and water districts could also apply for federal loans for lost revenue.

However, despite the eligibility, it’s not clear whether there will be any takers.

Stacy Smith, Bogalusa’s director of administration, said the city didn’t lose much revenue.

“The loan requires lost revenues of at least 5 percent due to the flood,” said Smith. “Bogalusa did not have many businesses out of operations for an extended period; therefore, I don’t believe the flood caused a significant decrease in sales taxes. This would make Bogalusa ineligible for the loan.”

Franklinton Mayor Wayne Fleming said his town wasn’t really affected by the flooding.

“Oh, no, we didn’t have enough damage to do that,” Fleming said. “Ours was just a little cleanup on several streets.”

Donna Graham, the parish’s director of finance, said the parish government would probably not apply for a loan.

“No, I don’t think so,” she said. “At this point it would be hard to pinpoint that (the flood) would be a reason for a loss of funding, as we were already facing a loss of sales tax funding.”

Still, Edwards is encouraging governments and governing bodies to take loans if they need them.

“The success of Louisiana depends on the success of local municipalities across our state,” Edwards said. “We are fortunate to have local leaders on the ground who demonstrated strong governance in the face of the March flooding. Their partnership and tireless dedication to rebuilding flood-affected communities has been critical during this ongoing recovery process. The Community Disaster Loan Program that now applies to both the March and August flooding can go a long way toward helping our schools, first responders and local governments continue the rebuilding effort.”

To find out more about the loans or to apply, go through the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP). Contact Allison Hadley of GOHSEP for more information, at 225-339-3798 or allison.hadley@la.gov.