The City of Lake Charles is now able to consult with two companies on how best to spend the additional federal disaster funding that is still awaiting congressional approval.
City council voted unanimously on Wednesday to allow the city to enter into cooperative agreements with Cornerstone Government Affairs and SBP for financial advocacy related to disaster recovery, including Hurricanes Laura and Delta.
The White House budget office made a request on Sept. 7 for additional relief from a natural disaster last year. The request includes $ 2.3 billion from the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery Program.
Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said Thursday that while SBP and Cornerstone had advised the city informally, the recent White House request required the two companies to provide regular advice. Hunter said he expects both companies to spend the next 3 to 4 months working with the city.
“The city will accept as much advice and guidance as possible from those who have worked with other communities after disasters,” Hunter said. “We don’t want federal resources to be used inefficiently or inefficiently. “
According to its website, SBP formed after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 and initially focused on helping St. Bernard Parish in its recovery. The organization was renamed SBP in 2016 and has since grown to help communities nationwide rebuild homes and advocate for housing assistance. Hunter said SBP was on the ground the day after Hurricane Laura arrived in August 2020, and the city has developed a working relationship with the organization.
Hunter said Paul Rainwater, senior consultant with Cornerstone Government Affairs, based in Washington, DC, introduced the city to the company. Rainwater was the city’s administrative director from 2000 to 2006 and chief of staff to Governor Bobby Jindal from 2012 to 2014.
Hunter credited Rainwater’s plea for helping secure the White House’s request for additional federal disaster assistance. He said Cornerstone is also working closely with the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana.
Currently, the city continues to wait to see what legislation additional disaster assistance is likely to come under, Hunter said.
“Something like an ongoing resolution would be ideal, as long as Congress doesn’t attach a dozen controversial things to it,” he said. “Then the passage becomes much more difficult. “
Hunter said he spoke to the staff of Republican U.S. Senators from Louisiana, John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy, about the need to get this disaster relief approved through Congress without any impediments.
“We have waited long enough,” he said. “We no longer need political interference.