"Everything that's been done has come from community volunteers," says New Iberia Mayor Hilda Curry. "If it hadn't been for the locals and the United Way, I don't know what we would have done." New Iberia has two shelters located in the civic centers in City and West End parks, housing approximately 500 people. There are 1,200 evacuees residing in the parish's motels and state parks. And scores of evacuees are staying in private homes.
The agencies committed to support these disaster victims have yet to provide financial support. "FEMA isn't in at all," says Jim Anderson, Iberia Parish's director of emergency management. "None of the people have gotten Red Cross vouchers; none have gotten FEMA checks."
Meanwhile the city is paying increased utilities to keep the two civic centers running as shelters, as well as overtime for park staff and police. "I don't have any idea what it's costing a day," Curry says. "We have 500 people taking showers. The police are working 24 hours. We just authorized the city to keep paying the bills while we wait for FEMA to reimburse us."
The Red Cross arrived without supplies, according to Curry. The community has donated medical services, food, transportation, help with social security and food stamps, registration for school and employment assistance. "Everything we need has been given," Red Cross volunteer Cathy Williams says. "Prescriptions have been filled free by local pharmacies. For four weeks we have a schedule of 500 meals that have been donated and cooked. There are mental health counselors every day. Companies from the port [of Iberia] are hiring. People have no money, but the people of the community are taking care of them."
The concern is how long this outpouring of generosity can be sustained until FEMA arrives with options and finances for evacuee populations.
Some problems could be alleviated this week. The Red Cross should be taking over meals any day now, and FEMA representatives have been in contact with city government and Anderson, looking for long-term housing. Curry says existing trailer slots are the priority. "We have about 70, in the Mixon trailer park," she says. "And there are 35 houses on the demolition list. We are asking for money to renovate them."
Contingency plans are moving forward, and city officials are meeting with the ministerial council. "There are 165 families in the shelters," Curry says. "We're looking for a local family to adopt each one, to help them find their way around here. If we work with family members, we might find a way to help people get jobs and relocate them. We have been working as a community to try to provide services that haven't materialized. We can't wait for FEMA."
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, March 11, 2014:
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.