The Louisiana Department of Labor announced on Thursday, November 1, that it has received a $10.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to assist 3,500 citizens in hurricane-affected parishes. LDOL requested the National Emergency Grant, which will allow the agency to continue serving those affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The funding will assist 3,500 residents. At least 184,000 have requested funding from the Road Home, a separate program.
"There continues to be a tremendous need for debris removal and workforce training to restore communities throughout the affected area," said La. Dept. of Labor Assistant Secretary Bennett Soulier. "Having a skilled workforce is critical to Louisiana's recovery from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and these additional funds will enable us to train up to 3,500 citizens in various recovery occupations."
OPED NEWS has been in the still-devastated areas of Orleans Parish, which includes the iconic lower ninth ward, for several weeks. There is great need for assistance as a handful of residents return and need help gutting their flooded homes and beginning reconstruction, if they have the money to do so. Many have been depending upon volunteer labor provided largely by college students. Others have been the victims of contractor fraud and shoddy reconstruction. Theft of cooper is a big issue and new wiring is stolen as fast as it is installed. Debris is everywhere.
"By training workers and connecting them with jobs that benefit the recovery, this grant provides a much-needed means to help our displaced residents move back into their communities," Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said. "My thanks to the U.S. Department of Labor for identifying and meeting this critical recovery need. Louisiana will make good use of these funds."
In addition to funding from the U.S. Department of Labor, Louisiana is addressing the state's labor shortage through its Recovery Workforce Training Program, which was designed by the Louisiana Recovery Authority in conjunction with the Office of Community Development and is funded by $38 million in Community Development Block Grants provided through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The RWTP was created to address shortages in key recovery sectors: oil and gas, healthcare, construction, advanced manufacturing, cultural economy and transportation. The RWTP, administered by the Louisiana Workforce Commission, is scheduled to train 7,000 workers over the next three years.
Parishes included in the grant are Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist and St. Tammany.