In the wake of the disastrous floods in Baton Rouge that have left 13 dead and 60,000 homes damaged or destroyed, the Federal Emergency Management Organization (FEMA) has already funded $2.9 million through its public assistance program.
More than $55 million has been approved to help survivors with temporary rental assistance, essential home repairs, and other serious disaster-related needs. FEMA has also approved and issued $11 million to National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholders in Louisiana who sustained damages due to the floods, according to the White House.
"We are heartbroken by the loss of life," President Obama said during his visit to Baton Rouge. "I think anybody who can see just the streets, much less the inside of the homes here, people's lives have been upended by this flood." (See also: Louisiana Governor: The State’s ‘Historic’ Flooding is Being Ignored)
Unfortunately, FEMA is no stranger to funding relief efforts in Louisiana, where many of its most expensive relief efforts have occurred. In March, FEMA provided $9 million in funds to assist with severe storms and flooding, the same amount it provided during Tropical Storm Allison in June of 2001. Here is a list of the costliest natural disasters in modern U.S. history, based on FEMA's response:
FEMA's costliest relief effort in Louisiana was the result of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, where the organization spent $13.2 billion. Katrina's expenses are far beyond those of Hurricane Gustav's in 2008, which was a relatively modest $718 million in publicly assisted funds. Hurricane Rita that hit the state in 2005 is third at $680 million, followed by Hurricane Isaac, Ike, and Lili, and Hurricane Georges, which were $680 million, $330 million, $226 million, $72 million, and $29 million, respectively.
Its public assistance program, according to FEMA's website, provides grants to state, local, and federally recognized tribal governments, as well certain private non-profit entities, "to assist them with the response to and recovery from disasters."
Funds from FEMA play a large role in debris removal, emergency protective measures, as well as permanent restoration of infrastructure.