ERATH, La. -- While Rita-related repair work to restore Dozier Elementary School is currently underway, residents of Vermilion Parish may also notice a new addition to the school's campus. A five-foot floodwall is being built around the facility, thanks to the school board's smart planning and a recent federal grant, announced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA).
"We are ecstatic about this funding because it is protecting our investment at Dozier Elementary School for future generations," said Vermilion Parish School Board Superintendent Randy Schexnayder. "And we are happy with our partnership with FEMA to make this happen."
To date, through its Public Assistance program, FEMA has funded more than $3.2 million in reconstruction grants for Dozier Elementary. Included in this funding is the agency's recent grant of $1.2 million to construct a concrete floodwall around the school, reducing the risk of flooding from future events and complying with National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requirements.
"This floodwall is a great example of rebuilding safer, smarter and stronger, which is our mission," said Paul Rainwater, LRA executive director. "We commend Vermilion Parish officials for ensuring this facility will be available to local students for many years to come."
After much planning and hard work by the local school board and through partnership across all levels of government, Dozier's Aug. 17, 2009 reopening is now only a few months away. Currently, remaining repair work is nearing completion, and a new beginning is in sight for 510 students who have already enrolled to be part of the restored pack of "Dozier bobcats."
"The Vermilion Parish School board is rebuilding Dozier Elementary School today in a way that better protects itself from future flooding," said FEMA's Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office Acting Director Tony Russell. "By providing federal funding for this project, FEMA is happy to support Dozier's reconstruction efforts and commends the school board for their foresight in preparing for the future."
Before Hurricane Rita's devastating impact on the elementary school, Dozier was the educational home to 805 students. In September 2005, these students were all displaced, having to transfer to other educational facilities after Rita's storm surge and floodwater inundated the school and forced it to close.
Amongst its damages, the school's doors, floors, ceilings and crucial systems - communications, mechanical, plumbing and electrical - were all affected, rendering Dozier Elementary in need of significant repair work in order to reopen and educate the children in the community again.
When FEMA approves projects 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 the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (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.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated South Louisiana, claiming 1,464 lives, destroying more than 200,000 homes and 18,000 businesses. The Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) is the planning and coordinating body that was created in the aftermath of these storms to lead one of the most extensiv...