DENHAM SPRINGS — Inefficiency on the government level has played the biggest role in the sluggish recovery of Livingston Parish and other areas following the August flood, Congressman Garret Graves said last week.

Graves, who spoke Jan. 18 at the annual meeting of the Livingston Economic Development Council at Forest Grove Plantation, said south Louisiana parishes need more than the $1.6 billion to make a significant recovery.

“There’s no doubt we lack the resources available for a full recovery,” said Graves, R-Baton Rouge.

He anticipated a third round of negotiations for disaster relief in April.

The lack of federal funds for recovery worsened a situation for homeowners who have already encountered hardships in seeking help after the flood, he said.

“Recovery was inefficient,” Graves said. “In fact, FEMA exacerbated the problem.”

Graves also targeted the recovery package for its focus mainly on low-to-moderate income households.

He considered the process unfair.

“”Floodwaters didn’t discriminate,” Graves said. “This flood damaged every single home and business.

“If floods didn’t discriminate, the recovery shouldn’t discriminate,” he said.

A recovery package which singles out certain entities and areas threatens the livelihood of a community, Graves said.

“The relief package should provide assistance across the board,” he said. “We stand the risk of a disjointed recovery by allowing only some neighborhoods to recover. Our neighbors and employers are the heart and soul of a community.”

A strong community has played the biggest role thus far in the comeback for Livingston Parish, Graves said.

He pointed to charity groups, volunteer organizations and the faith-based community for efforts in the recovery.

“What happened in August would’ve devastated other communities, but people here didn’t wait around for FEMA,” Graves said. “This community came together and rescued one another and sheltered one another.

“People offered everything they had, ranging from human capitol to writing checks for anyone in need of assistance,” he said. “It was the sign of a great community.”

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John Dupont is a reporter for the Livingston Parish News. He can be reached at johnorydupont@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @dupont_john.

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