In demanding massive federal funds for the people, La Riva said, “The government has all the ability to marshal the resources for Louisiana. The problem is its priorities. Instead of the yearly $4 billion to Israel, that in turn uses the money to repress the Palestinians, bulldoze their homes, kill and imprison them, instead of the $1 trillion planned for new nuclear weapons, Washington should allocate many billions and much more to communities hurt by disaster, whether Native people in Arizona and New Mexico hit by the Gold King release of toxic chemicals into the Animas and San Juan rivers, the Hurricane Sandy devastation, and today, the Louisiana communities. The people who work and struggle to live should not have to face these disasters alone and without aid.”
“As flood waters recede in Baton Rouge and broader Louisiana area, it is clear that massive federal funding is needed immediately, not weeks or days later,” said Gloria La Riva, presidential candidate for the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
“I have spoken with several friends in Baton Rouge, including Yalanda, a woman with whom PSL members and I became friends during our visit to Baton Rouge, when we participated in protests for Alton Sterling in early July. Yalanda is living with her family in her car, because her home that she rents is flooded. Although she has applied, FEMA says any aid that may be provided is weeks away.”
More than 40,000 homes are severely damaged, more than 20,000 people have applied for FEMA aid, a huge number given the unprecedented flood. The damage is growing. This just points to the need for the federal government to do more than declare a federal disaster in only four parishes. People cannot be left so vulnerable and in danger for their health and safety.”
La Riva, presidential candidate whose supporters qualified her last week for the Louisiana ballot on November 8, also noted that the climate crisis is directly affecting whole regions in the United States, and worldwide.
“Only 12 percent of people in Baton Rouge have flood insurance, since it is only required for areas classified as within certain flood zones. This is being called a flood that would only occur in 1,000 years. But these floods are becoming much more common, for instance Hurricane Sandy and its damage along the east coast.
“It is not enough to just require insurance, another financial burden for working-class people in an economically-depressed area. Especially after the 2012 passage of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act, insurance costs are skyrocketing for homeowners, making it impossible to pay. For instance, many homeowners in the East are seeing their insurance rise from under $1,000 annually to over $10,000 to $15,000.
“Instead, infrastructural improvements are needed short- and long-term, such as flood control and diversion projects, better evacuation procedures, and environmental planning, nature restoration, and providing for communities move further away from risky regions.
“The restrictions and limitations on federal aid to Louisiana mean that many thousands of people are not eligible. For instance, only homeowners who didn’t have insurance in areas where insurance was not required, are eligible, and only for $33,000. Damage could run much higher. Renters are only eligible for one month of rental aid. That is outrageous and unacceptable.”
La Riva saluted all the many volunteers, rescue and recovery workers and neighbors who are working night and day to help in the disaster efforts.
“Everyone in need should be given sufficient funds for housing, food, clothing and other necessities, for as long as they need to recover. Losing one’s housing and belongings could spell a greater disaster that lasts far beyond the flood.”