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.

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.

Jessica Rosgaard / WWNO

The federal government has already allocated $1.6 billion to Louisiana to aid in recovery from the August flood. Today, the Restore Louisiana Task Force approved the Governor’s plan on how to spend it. 

A large majority of the federal recovery money -- $1.3 billion -- will be spent on home repairs.

The focus is on over 36-thousand homes that took on major damage and were not covered by flood insurance.

Wallis Watkins / WWNO

Over a third of the public schools in Livingston Parish were damaged by the flooding in Southeast Louisiana last August. While some of those schools have been repaired, others still haven't been able to reopen - like Southside Junior High School, where classes began this new year at a new site - for now. Wallis Watkins reports.

As students settle into Mr. Ivy’s 8th grade Louisiana History class, Principal Wes Partin makes morning announcements.

“We want to welcome all our students back and we’re looking forward to a great spring semester here at our school."

There's just one week left until qualifying, and so far we’ve covered the Governor’s race and the candidates for Attorney General. But little has been said about the four candidates vying for Lieutenant Governor - the person who will be in charge when the Governor is out of state and the head of Louisiana tourism. 


It was the first of many meetings on Tuesday for the Sales Tax Streamlining and Modernization Commission, led by Representative Julie Stokes. 


Jack Hua is a third year medical school student at Tulane University.  "It's such an enormous feat to get into medical school.  We've been working hard for a really long time.  The specialties make so much more money.  Obviously, someone making $150,000 a year is going to be well-off, it's just that when you compare that to $450,000..." he says.


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