To give you a sense of the magnitude of the situation here, more than 100,000 people have applied for federal assistance so far. As of today, federal support has reached $127 million. That’s for help like temporary rental assistance, essential home repairs, and flood insurance payments.
FEMA is also working with Louisiana around the clock to help people who were displaced by floods find temporary housing. And any Louisiana family that needs help, you can find your nearest disaster recovery center by visiting FEMA.gov, or calling 1-800-621-FEMA. I’m going to repeat that: FEMA.gov, or 1-800-621-FEMA.
Now, federal assistance alone is not going to be enough to make people’s lives whole again. So I’m asking every American to do what you can to help get families and local businesses back on their feet. If you want help — if you want to help, Governor Edwards put together some ways to start at VolunteerLouisiana.gov. That’s VolunteerLouisiana.gov.
And the reason this is important is because even though federal money is moving out, volunteer help actually helps the state because it can offset some of its costs. Obviously, private donations are going to be extremely important, as well. We want to thank the Red Cross for everything they’re doing, but there are a lot of private, philanthropic organizations, churches, parishes around the state and around the country who want to help, as well. And that how we’re going to make sure that everybody is able to get back on their feet.
So let me just remind folks: Sometimes once the floodwaters pass, people’s attention spans pass. This is not a one-off. This is not a photo op issue. This is, how do you make sure that a month from now, three months from now, six months from now, people still are getting the help that they need. I need all Americans to stay focused on this. If you’re watching this today, make sure that you find out how you can help. You can go to VolunteerLouisiana.gov, or you can go to FEMA.gov. We’ll tell you, we’ll direct you — you can go to WhiteHouse.gov, and we’ll direct you how you can help.
But we’re going to need to stay on this, because these are some good people down here. We’re glad that the families I had a chance to meet are safe, but they’ve got a lot of work to do, and they shouldn’t have to do it alone.
I have criticized him hard on this topic, but I will not say anything today other than to thank him for saying these things today, and to strongly, even desperately, encourage you all to listen to his words, and help as you can. I watched a national news report on the clean-up last night, and if that’s all I knew about what the situation in Louisiana was like, I would have assumed that people here have everything well in hand.
It’s not true. It’s not remotely true. Folks here are working very, very hard, in scorching heat and humidity. But we need help.
To give you an idea of the scope of this thing, a National Weather Service meteorologist said that 11,000 square miles of the state had at least 15 inches of rain within 48 hours (some had more). That’s more than the entire state of Massachusetts. Imagine every square mile of Massachusetts underwater. That’s the scale we’re talking about here.
I’m working on a very tight and immovable deadline to finish my Benedict Option book, and unfortunately, all the stress of the closing of our church, the move, and now the flood appears to have reactivated my chronic mono. I’m hoping that it’s just a flare-up and not the real thing, but the past few days have been hard. I’m hoping, though, that things improve, and that next week I can go out into the field and do some reporting for this site.