ST. BERNARD PARISH, La. -- Bumps along St. Bernard's roadways are being smoothed out, after recovery partners jointly assessed several hundred miles of roadways throughout the parish to account for all Katrina-related damages.
These street assessments, a combined effort involving the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA), the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) and St. Bernard Parish officials, recently resulted in millions more in FEMA public assistance grants, to help fund parish roadways repair work.
"St. Bernard residents should be pleased to hear that this additional money, $13.8 million, will literally ‘hit the streets' in their communities, making commutes to and from the places they work and play easier to travel," said FEMA's Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office Acting Director Tony Russell. "I'm also happy to share that millions more in FEMA grants currently are being processed for obligation to repair critical infrastructure."
St. Bernard Parish President Craig P. Taffaro Jr., said he is grateful for the much-needed increase in FEMA funding to repair the roads.
"These repairs are a crucial and important step forward in the progress and growth of St. Bernard," Taffaro said. "St. Bernard Parish officials are appreciative of the cooperation we are receiving from our federal and state partners with FEMA and GOHSEP, and the winners of this holistic approach to recovery are the residents."
Following Katrina, the parish's roadways sustained a continued cycle of negative impacts. First, 10 to 16 feet of flood water engulfed the streets and remained for weeks, and then repetitive pressure of heavy equipment - search and rescue, debris, demolition and "pump and haul" vehicles - traveled on the roadways in order to conduct initial response and recovery work.
FEMA's recent $13.8 million funding brings the federal agency's total obligation to date for the parish's roadway restoration project to $39.5 million. This effort by FEMA, St. Bernard Parish, and the state helps progress move forward along St. Bernard's "soon-to-be" fully restored streets.
"Fully assessing the damage to the roads was an important first step, and with the added FEMA dollars the real restoration can begin," said Paul Rainwater, executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority. "Residents will enjoy not only smoother roads, but more importantly safer ones."
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 extensive rebuilding efforts in the world. The LRA is a 33-member body which is coordinating across jurisdictions, supporting community recovery and resurgence, ensuring integrity and effectiveness, and planning for the recovery and rebuilding o...