Falgout said that the water was likely 60% mud. He hopes relief will soon be available for his community of Larose, which is about 30 miles southwest from New Orleans.

Climate change is making hurricanes more powerful and more severe. Cities along the Louisiana coast and Mississippi River hope President Biden’s $1.2 billion infrastructure package will provide much-needed funding to help flood protections. Advocates and community groups fear that smaller cities won’t be able to navigate the maze created by government programs, and will miss the rare opportunity to protect against rising waters or heavy rains.

Colin Wellenkamp is the executive director of The Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative. He advocates for communities along its banks.

Many areas of the country are at danger of flooding. However, the Louisiana coast is particularly vulnerable. The Upper Mississippi is also part of an area where the severity of floods is rising faster than any other region.

La Crosse, Wisconsin is one of the cities that are trying to find ways to get infrastructure funds.

According to Brad Woznak, SEH flood planning consultant, the city’s levees weren’t built after 1965’s devastating flooding. They don’t comply with federal standards, which would lower homeowners’ insurance rates and make it easier to repair their homes without spending more on flood protection.

He said that upgrading the levees is so costly it would be difficult for the city of San Francisco to know where to start.

Woznak stated that funding for infrastructure bills could be an option, and that they should not rule out any possibility. He also suggested that the bill could pay for the initial evaluation of the project.

Advocates want agencies to make it easier to inform communities about funding opportunities. They also want to ensure that small-scale applications can be submitted to the same agency as more complex proposals from larger cities. They also desire more information about how the Biden administration views factors such as economic and environmental inequalities in its funding decisions.

The Biden administration wants states to consider climate resilience in their long-term planning. It also encourages projects that account for flood risk. The law’s implementation was coordinated by Mitch Landrieu (the former mayor of New Orleans) and outreach to communities.

Forbes Tompkins, a Pew Charitable Trusts flood policy expert, stated that “there needs to be an organized effort by the administration to engage states and locales now.”

The Environmental Protection Agency stated that it will provide assistance to those in need and states with money can help small communities get funding for their drinking water and wastewater projects. The Environmental Protection Agency is also providing guidance to rural communities on how to tap into the money.

The debate over the best ways to protect against flooding complicates the funding scramble. In addition to protections like levees and floodgates, Congress directed the Army Corps to more seriously consider natural solutions like the restoration and protection of wetlands.

Olivia Dorothy, conservationist with American Rivers, stated that wetlands absorb water before it reaches communities and restore wildlife habitat. They also recharge groundwater and provide more green space.

Flooding in 2019 caused a breach in a Missouri River levee. The levee was then moved back to create floodplains of more than 1,000 acres and additional wetlands.

Dorothy stated that Mississippi needs more natural protections.

Larose, Louisiana is one of the few communities that was able to receive early funding under the infrastructure law due to a long-running project within the larger area.

The Army Corps provided $379 million in January to continue construction on a number of locks, levees, and other structures that will protect 150,000 coastal Louisiana residents. Local officials stated that the Morganza-tothe-Gulf project would likely protect Falgout’s house from another hurricane like Ida once it is completed.

Falgout and Falgout’s wife live in their boathouse for the moment while they repair their home. Although the property was previously protected from flooding, Falgout stated that the shrinking Louisiana coast makes it more vulnerable.

He said, “It would have been a shame to leave.”