River Region’s hurricane recovery still making progress

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 1, 2005


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE — Since Hurricane Katrina local parishes have been trying to restore order in their communities, which has become a slow, but sure process.

St. John Parish Chief Administrative Officer Natalie Robottom said the major concern for St. John Parish is debris pickup.

&#8220The clean-up in this area is ongoing,” she said. &#8220But the majority of the debris has been picked up. We have seen significant progress in our area.”

Robottom said though there has been an influx of people, the businesses still do not have enough employees and finding temporary housing for the extra residents has also been a challenge.

&#8220At this point we still have some clean-up to do, and more there is more debris to come,” she said. &#8220But overall we are stable.”

Director of Finance Jeff Clement said the parish is financially where it probably would be even if the storm never passed through.

Robottom said even though a lot of money has been spent they are expecting to be reimbursed for their expenses.

As for St. Charles Parish, millions of their money has been spent on constructing a hurricane protection levee, now that things have started getting back to normal.

&#8220We are up and running,” said Steve Sirmon, St. Charles Parish public information officer. &#8220We got back on our feet fairly quickly. We are at about 85 to 90 percent on our debris pickup, and we hope to be completed with it by the end of the year.”

Sirmon said right after the hurricane the first problems to face were power, debris,

clearing the streets and garbage. But now that the storm is over St. Charles is focusing on trying to get the West Bank in order.

&#8220We are trying to get straight with the West Bank, and looking for ways to get funding to construct a hurricane protection levee,” Sirmon said. &#8220We also need new pumps on the East Bank. We have spent a couple million dollars of our own money trying to get it started on building one.”

Sirmon said St. Charles Parish spent around $7 million dollars to get thing running after the hurricane and to accommodate the nearly 25,000 new residents in the area, but Sirmon said St. Charles Parish anticipates getting a reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Sirmon said paperwork is being completed &#8220as we speak to help the parish receive funding for construction of the hurricane protection levee.”

He said building a levee will take three phases, and he hopes phase one will be completed by the end of next year.