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Gov. Edwards Renews Request for Federal Assistance

Jessica Rosgaard

Three months after flood waters devastated southeast Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards is hoping his second request for federal funds will be approved before Congress adjourns for the year. Part of the $4-billion request would be designated for infrastructure improvements. He addressed the topic in his monthly radio call-in show.

Edwards said he is urging the federal government to approve funding for construction of the Comite River diversion.

Though it wouldn’t have prevented all of the recent flooding, officials estimate the proposed diversion canal could have kept as many as 25 percent of damaged homes from being washed out.

"We should not kid ourselves we would have still had a record flood in the Baton Rouge area but it clearly would not have been as bad as it was, had we had this project in place," Edwards said.

Edwards has requested $125 million for the project, which consists of a 12-mile diversion channel from the Comite River to the Mississippi River. The money is part of a disaster assistance request Edwards sent to President Obama in October.

"The Corps of Engineers tells us we can have that project complete within two years of them getting the funding," Edwards said. "And that project now has been on the books and approved for two decades, and so we need to do that."

Edwards also said he’s looking at the safety barrier along I-12 to determine what role the wall may have played in flooding in Livingston Parish. Residents say the barrier kept the floodwater from dispersing, leaving homes on the north side of interstate inundated. Officials are examining if any modifications can be made to increase water flow in that area.

This report has been brought to you by the Louisiana Public Radio Partnership, and made possible with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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