IBERIA PARISH, La. -- Community parks offer families a place to retreat from the busyness of everyday life and enjoy healthy, outdoor fun. When Hurricane Gustav damaged Iberia Parish parks, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) and local officials realized the parks' importance and worked together to repair the parks as quickly as possible for all to enjoy again.
Nearly 60 percent, eight out of 14 of the parish's parks, incurred some form of damages resulting from the storm's impact last September. FEMA has recently reimbursed Iberia Parish for repair work that was done to the eight damaged parks.
"With FEMA's assistance, the department was able to restore ballfield lighting and other amenities with no lapse in services and programs," said Iberia Parish Recreation Department Director Blaine Meche. "The citizens of Iberia Parish were again able to enjoy this spring baseball and softball season in their park facilities."
The eight Gustav-damaged parks - Lydia Weeks Park, Loreauville Park, Ward 8 Park, Burleigh Park, Remy Landry Park, Rynella Park, King Joseph Park and Jeanerette Park - were all restored to their pre-Gustav conditions so that residents could utilize the public facilities in their original and full capacities.
"Public parks offer residents a place to be active, enjoy and spend time with their families and get to know their neighbors," said Tony Russell, acting director of FEMA's Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office. "They are essential aspects of healthy communities, and that's why FEMA has worked with Iberia Parish and the state to help fund the repairs to these eight parks. Through their restoration, normal community life and activities were able to resume following Hurricane Gustav."
"This is an example of local, state and federal officials collaborating successfully to the benefit of local citizens," said Paul Rainwater, LRA executive director. "It's exciting that these eight parks were available to Iberia Parish residents less than a year after they were damaged by Hurricane Gustav."
In total, FEMA has provided $78,366 in public assistance grants for work including repairs to twisted light fixtures and dugout roofs in many of their baseball fields, playground fences and park benches. 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.
Created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in 2005, the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) is the coordinating and planning body leading the most extensive rebuilding effort in American history. The central point for hurricane recovery in Louisiana, the LRA works closely with GOHSEP and partners with state and federal agencies to oversee more than $20 billion worth of programs, speed the pace of rebuilding, remove hurdles and red tape and ensure that Louisiana recovers safer and stronger than before. For more information about the LRA and its 17-member board, visit lra.louisiana.gov.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, s...