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 / WWNO

For 17 years, residents in parts of East Baton Rouge, Ascension and Livingston parishes have been paying a local tax to help fund construction of the Comite River Diversion Canal, designed to lower the flood risk of nearby homeowners. Then in 2016, record flooding hit the region — causing billions in damage. The incident only ignited the demand for answers from frustrated taxpayers.

With search and rescue efforts completed in the flooded parts of southwest Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards says the state has now taken the lead on evacuating and sheltering people from the far corner of southeastern Texas.

Kmusser / Creative Commons

Since rainfall blanketed southeast Louisiana in August 2016, residents have wondered how the state can protect its people from future floods. Answering that question begins with understanding the geography we live in.

Wallis Watkins

Denham Springs saw some of the worst damage in the August 2016 flood. As the rebuilding continues, the city is developing a long-term recovery plan — one designed by the people who live there. Denham Strong, the city's recovery planning group, gives residents an opportunity to advocate for what they want Denham Springs to look like years from now.

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.

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