Documenters in Calcasieu Parish publish meeting notes and information on budgets and public records relevant to disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. We summarize the week’s notes in our newsletter, and share them on our website and social media.
Lake Charles and Calcasieu Parish have been hit hard by disasters the last several years—the pandemic, hurricanes, tornadoes, a deep freeze, historic flooding. These have exacerbated food insecurity and the housing crisis, and many residents are left wondering where relief money is being spent.
We are spending six months on a pilot project tracking, documenting, and reporting on disaster prep, response, and recovery by attending public meetings, following city and parish budgets, and examining public records. We’re working with and learning from Documenters, a national network of newsrooms and community organizations committed to participatory civic media that started out of City Bureau in Chicago.
This is a case study that can hopefully be replicated throughout the South and U.S. in how we hold power accountable and show up for our communities before, during, and long after a storm hits or emergency happens.
Hurricane recovery still looks like a patchwork of blue tarped roofs, ongoing insurance fights, and long waits for federal and state government relief. We examined FEMA records to find out where funding is going.
Some residents say the process to get federal funding from a new Louisiana program is confusing, cumbersome, and time-consuming. Here’s what it looks like for one homeowner in Lake Charles, and what you can learn from her experience.