New Orleans Mayoral Candidate Leilani Heno Pleads With President Biden for More Assistance in Hurricane Ida’s Aftermath


Dear President Biden,

I am Leilani Heno and I am running for mayor of the city of New Orleans. We have just suffered a catastrophic disaster (Hurricane Ida). Every report shows that we are receiving FEMA money. I am personally feeding people with money out of my own pocket, and from others willing to donate from theirs. Most everyone that I’m talking to has been denied by FEMA. I’m sure some are receiving funds, but many, who I have personally delivered food to, are not. Where is the FEMA emergency disaster money going? Is this money that should be allocated to the citizens of New Orleans?

I’m sure that you are aware that there were no mandatory evacuations. My Insurance adjuster just told me that he will not get out to homes for weeks. There are people still sitting in their homes with no lights, in the heat, no water, no food, no gas to get to locations with supplies. Citizens who were responsible enough and capable to have insurance, are not receiving immediate help even though they have clearly been displaced. The time it takes for an insurance company to send out an adjuster to decide whether or not our toilets are flushing and if we do, in fact, have damage is too long for most. Elderly people are dying from heat due to not being evacuated pre or post storm. I understand that one would normally ask lower elected officials these questions, but no one ever seems to have solid answers as to where or how Federal funds are to get into the citizens’ hands as intended.

Earlier this year, Orleans parish received funding from the U.S. Treasury to operate Emergency Rental Assistance programs, first from the supplemental Covid-relief package passed by Congress in December and then from the American Rescue Plan that passed in March.

Below is a link to the investigation by WWL-TV. WWL-TV reported that they “obtained an internal City Hall memo that suggests Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration planned in March to send some of New Orleans’ limited housing assistance funds to a business development group”. Meanwhile, residents were being put out of their homes.…/289-2d58315b-e601-4a09-b040…

I, personally, sat on the phone with FEMA for an hour and 15 minutes. The woman on the other end was very nice and apologized, but said she has no idea how things work or how to update any changes on the system. She agreed that we would be reimbursed for generators if we bought those, but had no idea how or to let the system know that we actually purchased that once an initial claim was made.

Mr. President, our citizens need direct help that is not funneled through local officials in times of emergency. Where is the FEMA emergency disaster money going? Is this money that should be allocated to the citizens of New Orleans? If so, can you please have your team look into this disbursement to make sure that it lands where it is intended? … in the hands of the affected citizens?

Yours in good health, and high vibration,

Leilani Heno

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