Wallis Watkins

Wallis Watkins is a Baton Rouge native. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Philosophy from Louisiana State University in 2013. Soon after, she joined WRKF as an intern and is now reporting on health and health policy for Louisiana's Prescription.

Wallis Watkins

When the flood waters rose in August, one zip code experienced some of the worst damage in East Baton Rouge. New Byrd Station, 70805. This neighborhood, like many, is still trying to recover - but as Wallis Watkins reports, residents are facing some unique challenges.

FEMA announced today that, at the request of the state, some flooded homeowners still living in a FEMA manufactured housing unit will have the option to purchase it. Wallis Watkins reports.

Gage Skidmore / flickr.com/gageskidmore

In his second trip to Louisiana as Vice President, Mike Pence spent Wednesday promoting President Donald Trump’s plans for the economy.  

Pence’s first stop was to visit with a Denham Springs couple who rebuilt their home following the August floods. Pence met with the same homeowners last summer.

Then, at Cajun Industries in Port Allen, Pence spent time with business leaders discussing the how Obamacare has impacted jobs. In a speech afterwards, he touted the Trump Administration’s energy plan, which emphasizes growth in offshore oil and gas extraction.

Wallis Watkins / WRKF

Now that the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program has started, outreach efforts are underway to help flooded homeowners navigate the process of rebuilding.  Wallis Watkins has more.

Jessica Rosgaard / WWNO

Of the $1.6 billion Congress has appropriated for Louisiana’s flood recovery efforts, $1.3 billion is dedicated to homeowners. In the August flood alone, the Small Business Administration has approved nearly as much in disaster loans to repair flooded houses. But as Wallis Watkins reports, some homeowners feel getting that help has put them at a disadvantage.

At Friday's meeting of the Restore Louisiana Task Force, the members approved a formal request for an additional $2 billion in recovery funds as part of a federal budget proposal being considered by Congress next week.

Wallis Watkins / WWNO/WRKF

Even before the March and August floods hit Louisiana, the state faced a shortage of affordable rental housing. That shortage grew as homes flooded and became uninhabitable. On Tuesday, Governor John Bel Edwards announced an initiative to help fill that need. Wallis Watkins reports.

Wallis Watkins / WWNO/WRKF

In September 2016, the Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded East Baton Rouge Parish an $11 million grant to assist with flood recovery. Thursday night, Mayor Sharon West Broome's office proposed a new plan on how to spend it. Wallis Watkins reports.

Gonzales, Louisiana; August 2016
Jessica Rosgaard / WWNO

It’s been nearly six months since the historic flooding in southeast Louisiana. Since then, Congress has authorized $1.6 billion for the state to help people repair homes and businesses. But that’s well short of the estimated $8 billion in damage done. Wallis Watkins spoke with some flood survivors trying to navigate the recovery process.

Jessica Rosgaard / WWNO

Governor John Bel Edwards is traveling to Washington, D.C. - his sixth trip since the August flooding in Louisiana. He’ll be meeting with lawmakers to request an additional $2 billion in flood relief.

So far, Congress has approved two installments of funding for the state at a total of $1.6 billion. But Governor Edwards says that is still short of what’s needed.

Last week, the Governor sent letters to both the Louisiana Congressional Delegation and President Trump describing the unmet needs of homeowners, renters and businesses.

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