NEW ORLEANS – The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the city of New Orleans recently announced more than $3.5 million in additional recovery aid to restore the city’s Municipal Auditorium, which was damaged during Hurricane Katrina.
As a component of the New Orleans Cultural Center, located alongside the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts in Louis Armstrong Park, the Morris F.X. Jeff Sr. Municipal Auditorium, as it’s formally called, served pre-Katrina as a public facility with a 6,000-seat capacity to host civic events.
“The Municipal Auditorium has been an important New Orleans landmark with a rich cultural history for decades,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. “These federal recovery dollars are an encouraging step forward and will supplement the money FEMA has already allocated. We are making progress every day and will continue to work with FEMA to identify new eligible funding for this storm-damaged building so that we can one day get it back into commerce. FEMA continues to be an important partner in our recovery from Hurricane Katrina.”
In recovery partnership with the city of New Orleans, FEMA Public Assistance staffers recently re-evaluated the eligible damages at the Municipal Auditorium and determined the additional funding was necessary to support disaster-related roof damages not previously taken into account. Likewise, the current funding also covers determined architectural finishes that will require asbestos abatement and remediation of disaster-impacted lead-based paint.
“Regarding roof damages, FEMA’s earlier site visits were limited to visual observations of damages, but more recent investigations with the city included roof sampling and the use of technology-based moisture surveys to best identify Katrina’s overall impact,” said FEMA’s Louisiana Recovery Office Acting Executive Director
Andre Cadogan. “As a result, the total area of damaged roofing was increased to approximately 110,000 square feet, which FEMA’s most recent funding encompasses.”
FEMA’s previous funding addressed architectural damages in the Municipal Auditorium’s basement through fifth floors, excluding damages attributed to mold, asbestos and lead paint.
“In order for the city to move forward safely with these repairs, recent site investigations also focused on identifying architectural areas where damage to lead-based paint and asbestos materials had occurred. These findings are now represented in our recent grant and will enable the city to move this recovery project along as needed,” added Cadogan.
To date, FEMA has obligated approximately $6.4 billion in public assistance funding for Katrina and Rita related recovery work throughout the city of New Orleans.
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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.