CAMERON PARISH, La. -- After Hurricane Rita, the Johnson Bayou Multi-Purpose Building was rebuilt significantly higher off the ground than before. The result was that it survived Hurricane Ike unscathed and was able to serve as a base camp for first responders to conduct essential response work during the storm's aftermath.
Three years earlier, following Hurricane Rita, the Johnson Bayou Multi-Purpose Building had a very different hurricane experience. Rita's high winds and storm surge severely damaged the facility to the extent that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) found it eligible for replacement.
"Having provided nearly $1 million for a replacement facility, FEMA is proud not only of our funding assistance, but of our mitigation efforts to rebuild the facility smarter than before," said Jim Stark, director of the Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office. "We're happy that these mitigation improvements proved successful during the recent storm."
In accordance with the Cameron Parish floodplain code, FEMA's Public Assistance Program funded these mitigation efforts to elevate the new facility approximately 10 feet above ground. FEMA's Public Assistance Program allows for replacements to be built to codes and standards in place during the 2005 hurricanes. Additionally, applicants are required to rebuild to the Advisory Base Flood Elevation.
"As a result of these elevation measures, the Johnson Bayou Multi-Purpose Building withstood Ike's storm surge and was able to open its doors and serve as a hub for response and recovery efforts in the Cameron community - a great mitigation success story," added Stark.
After Hurricane Ike, first responders including firefighters, ambulance services and Cameron Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness personnel utilized the Johnson Bayou Multi-Purpose Building as a base camp for response work. Today, the facility is being utilized as a recovery staging point, serving as a distribution point for emergency commodities throughout the parish.
Previously, the facility was used as a community center, hosting weddings, receptions, graduations and birthday parties. It also provided the Cameron Parish community a central location to hold meetings.
FEMA obligated $987,899 for replacement of the facility after floodwaters significantly damaged its interior and exterior walls. High winds also damaged the roof of a covered pavilion located near the building. When project funds are obligated by FEMA through its supplemental Public Assistance grant, the funds are transferred to a federal Smartlink account. Once the funds have reached this account the applicant can request reimbursement from GOHSEP for eligible work completed. Obligated funds may change over time as the project worksheet is a living grant that is often adjusted as bids come in and scope of work is aligned.
The Public Assistance program works with state and local officials to fund recovery measures and the rebuilding of government and certain private nonprofit organizations' buildings, as well as roads, bridges and water and sewer plants. In order for the process to be successful, federal, state and local partners coordinate to draw up project plans, fund these projects and oversee their completion.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.