NEW ORLEANS, La. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) today announced nearly $2 million in additional FEMA funding to help the city of New Orleans rebuild the Rosa F. Keller Library in the Broadmoor neighborhood. The funds will contribute to building a state-of-the-art library and community center to serve as the local community's learning and cultural hub.
"This new facility will truly be a celebrated community jewel. The library is core to the neighborhood's vision of an education corridor. It is an essential element to the full revitalization of the area," New Orleans Public Library Chief Operating Officer Rica Trigs said.
The library was initially damaged during Hurricane Katrina from storm surge and floodwaters, which rose to a depth of two feet and remained in the facility for approximately a week. As a result, all interior elements of the library were severely damaged. To date, FEMA has provided approximately $3.4 million in eligible grants for the Rosa F. Keller Library.
"The fabric of vibrant neighborhoods is woven by the restoration of local libraries, parks, community centers, senior centers and health clinics for area residents," said FEMA's Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office Acting Director Tony Russell. "FEMA is glad to play a small but integral part in restoring the Keller Library for the Broadmoor community by funding its replacement."
In addition to the Rosa F. Keller Library, the New Orleans East Regional Library, Gentilly's Norman Mayer Library and Lakeview's Robert E. Smith Library have previously been funded for replacements under FEMA's public assistance program.
FEMA has provided a total of $15.8 million for libraries in New Orleans. In addition, the Keller Library has received a $2.0 million grant from the Carnegie Foundation. Recently, the LRA announced another $13.9 million in Community Development Block Grant funds to support the repair and rebuilding of libraries in New Orleans.
"Rebuilding the Keller Library is extremely important to the residents that chose to rebuild their homes in the Broadmoor neighborhood," said LRA Executive Director Paul Rainwater. "The $3.4 million for Keller is good news; it is even more gratifying to see the combination of nearly $30 million in FEMA and Community Development Block Grant funds go towards rebuilding six new libraries throughout the New Orleans area. Ultimately, the new libraries will provide educational resources, Internet access and children's areas for residents, plus serving as community centers where they can discuss and participate in our ongoing recovery process."
Originally constructed in 1993, the Rosa F. Keller Library was a modern facility with brick exterior and a slab on grade foundation. A joint FEMA, State, and City of New Orleans team identified additional storm-related damages resulted in repair costs estimated at more than 53 percent of replacement costs. Based on the FEMA's 50 percent rule, the entire building qualified as a replacement project.
Since Katrina, library services have been offered out of a temporary modular unit on the site of the Rosa F. Keller Library facility. The new library is expected to open in spring 2010.
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 p...