ASCENSION PARISH, La. -- Only weeks after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) announced $6.2 million to the Dixie Electric Membership Corporation (DEMCO) for work in Livingston and West Feliciana Parishes, another $5.1 million is now being awarded to the company for Hurricane Gustav work done to restore electricity throughout Ascension Parish.
This brings the total FEMA funding obligated to $27.7 million to date for Dixie Electric Membership Corporation, which services more than 102,000 meters along 9,202 miles of distribution lines across seven Louisiana parishes. During Hurricane Gustav, more than 3,000 miles of these electrical lines were twisted, and some were even torn away from their power poles by the storm’s category two winds.
“DEMCO didn’t waste any time in cleaning away debris and restoring and replacing electrical lines so that the citizens of Ascension Parish could begin their own recovery process. Reimbursing them for their quick response and dedication is the right thing to do,” said LRA Executive Director Paul Rainwater.
Within Ascension Parish alone, Gustav’s damages included approximately 144 power poles, 43 wooden cross arms and 68 pole transformers. FEMA’s recent $5.1 million grant reimburses Dixie Electric Membership Corporation not only for the removal and disposal of these damages, which were often widely scattered, but their replacements or repairs when required. When recovery efforts called for repairs to be made, such work included the straightening of leaning poles, tightening of sagging wires and splicing and running of new wire where necessary. In addition, this restoration work often required the removal of trees and limbs that originally impacted the lines during Gustav’s high winds.
“The reinstatement of the parish’s electrical system was crucial because it enabled the community to safely resume normal operations shortly after the storm,” said FEMA’s Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office Acting Director Tony Russell. “FEMA and our state partners have worked together to reimburse Dixie Electric Membership Corporation for their essential work, and our recent grant is one of many provided to support their post-Gustav recovery measures.”
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 the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (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.
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