NEW ORLEANS, La. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced today a $148.3 million consolidated grant to the St. Bernard Parish School Board, largely supporting the implementation of their post-Katrina, overall recovery plan.
"For nearly six and a half years, we have been steadfast in our efforts to fully rebuild our schools for the children of St. Bernard. These efforts, comprised of partnerships between our school board, FEMA and the state, have culminated in this monumental grant, which allows us to finish our final recovery endeavors," said St. Bernard School Board Superintendent Doris Voitier.
During Hurricane Katrina, St. Bernard Parish's public school system was destroyed, with most of their facilities rendered inoperable following the storm. Prior to the unprecedented destruction, these facilities served nearly 9,000 students throughout the local community.
"Given the reality of the large-scale catastrophe at hand, St. Bernard Parish School Board Superintendent Doris Voitier had to swiftly make initial, yet effective, recovery decisions with the goal of quickly returning students to school. Through her leadership, these early efforts transformed into a comprehensive recovery plan that is now nearing fruition," said FEMA's Louisiana Recovery Office Deputy Director of Programs Andre Cadogan.
The school system's new layout is built upon the determination that rebuilding all damaged facilities at their original locations was not in the best interest of the community's post-Katrina needs. Instead, the same functions and capacities that existed pre-Katrina were restored in a different configuration.
FEMA's recent grant supports these efforts, approving Voitier's consolidated alternate project request for the agency to streamline federal funding provided for 15 damaged facilities into nine targeted projects.
The nine projects include Chalmette High School; Chalmette High School's baseball field house, football field house and storage facility; Maumus Arts Center and Planetarium; new Lacoste Elementary School; the Cultural and Performing Arts Center; the school system's transportation, maintenance and storage building; Arabi Elementary School's gymnasium; J.J. Davies Elementary School's enclosed walkway and new Gautier Elementary School.
"Our consolidated funding best reflects the needs of the St. Bernard Parish School Board as they embark on their final rebuilding efforts and becoming the first school system in Louisiana destroyed by Hurricane Katrina to reach their end goal—full recovery," added Cadogan.
In total to date, FEMA has provided approximately $500 million in public assistance to the St. Bernard Parish School Board for all recovery work related to restoring their school system following hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
When FEMA approves projects through its supplemental Public Assistance grant, the funds are made available to the Governor's Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness, who disburses them to the applicant for eligible work completed.
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's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.