NEW ORLEANS, La. -- St. Bernard Parish was one of the hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina, and much work remains towards its recovery. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to work alongside parish applicants and the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness to aid in the rebuilding efforts.
Striving to help individuals get back on their feet, FEMA has aided 94,061 St. Bernard residents by distributing $350 million in individual assistance. Applicants were also provided approximately 9,000 trailers during the peak of the housing mission. Now, to help applicants transition from trailers into apartments, FEMA rental resources members have been actively searching for available rentals in the area. Today, 2,700 trailer units have already been deactivated, and each month another 130 are removed.
The magnitude of the Katrina and Rita disasters taxed the experienced resources of local jurisdictions and the state of Louisiana , as well as FEMA's public assistance program. FEMA responded with robust training and oversight of new personnel and ramped up public assistance operations at an unprecedented rate. Key team members who are ultimately responsible for public assistance funding for St. Bernard Parish have been working with the parish for 10 months on average.
Despite the challenges, FEMA has obligated $715 million in public assistance funds to St. Bernard Parish applicants, including $221 million in permanent work funding. When projects are obligated by FEMA, the funds are transferred to a Smartlink account. This allows the state to work with the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness as quickly as possible to access the monies and distribute them to the local applicants. The state may require additional documentation from the applicant before disbursals are made.
"St. Bernard suffered tremendously in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. While it is difficult to grasp the enormity of what the parish and its residents have gone through, we vow to continue the recovery process until its completion, working closely with state and local officials to accomplish this feat," said Jim Stark, FEMA director of the Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office.
The devastating effects of Katrina left much of St. Bernard Parish littered with debris and thousands of buildings in need of demolition. FEMA has obligated more than $268 million toward this cause, including $98.5 million for curbside debris removal. To date, 3.1 million cubic yards of debris have been removed with another 250,000 cubic yards remaining. Of the 12,000 residential and commercial structures needing demolition, 4,629 structures have been completed and $126 million has been obligated by FEMA.
St. Bernard's sewer and water system was inundated by floodwaters and damaged throughout. Today, the design phase has been completed or is in progress for all of St. Bernard Parish's sewer and water system repairs, and FEMA has obligated $23 million for approximately 133 sewer and water restoration projects.
Flooding and drainage issues plagued the parish after debris piled up in area canals and pumps sustained damage from the storm. FEMA originally provided $8.2 million for storm drain cleaning. Another $5 million was forwarded to the U.S Army Corps of Engineers for debris removal from the Lake Borgne Basin Levee District canals outside the National Resource Conservation Service jurisdiction. Other funding includes $600,000 for temporary pumps for the Lake Borgne Basin Levee District and $332,000 for St. Bernard Parish canal debris removal and pump repairs.
St. Bernard's infrastructure was greatly damaged by the storm, leaving 94 parish buildings in need of restoration. As of today, five are currently in the design phase, 30 more are scheduled to start designs by the end of April 2007 and the remainder are estimated to...