Business owners affected by Hurricane Ida right now primarily are concerned with “primal needs” such as water, ice, fuel and electricity, says Stephen Waguespack, president and CEO of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.
He’s urging anyone affected to register with FEMA for individual assistance. In the next week or two, once the power and fuel situations hopefully are closer to normal for most areas, LABI will survey its members to determine the most critical needs going forward.
“Baton Rouge is lucky in one sense that Hurricane Ida went to the east, but this region’s luck was the misfortune of our neighbors to the east,” he says. “Those areas are going to have a long haul ahead of them, and we can’t leave them behind.”
While hit hard by the storm and still suffering, Baton Rouge and New Orleans didn’t see much severe flood and wind damage and may be able to bounce back relatively quickly. That would put business leaders in those cities in a position to help their neighbors in other parishes that weren’t so fortunate, Waguespack notes.
As the remnants of Ida drenched northeastern states, some Louisiana residents expressed fear that their state would be forgotten. But Waguespack suggests there might be an upside for Louisiana.
“The feds really have no excuse now not to come in quickly with the federal package that would address Ida and Laura,” he says. “I think the unfortunate reality that’s sad but true is that the more members of congress who have this concern in their home state, the easier it’s going to be to get a majority in both chambers to pass a relief package.”