Robottom: 2016 Hurricane Season approaching

Published 12:01 am Saturday, May 21, 2016

As we embark upon the 2016 Hurricane Season, we encourage residents and business owners to make preparations in the event that a storm threatens our area.

We embrace the state’s motto and encourage everyone to “Get a Game Plan” for your family and business.

We know all too well the devastation caused by Hurricane Isaac as almost four years later we have not fully recovered. Since that time, our main goal has been to access every resource and avenue available to assist our residents and businesses to build back, better and stronger.

This has been approached in a variety of ways- including identifying recovery projects, managing Community Development Block Grants and facilitating loans and grants to assist our community.

In 2014, St. John the Baptist Parish was awarded $32 million in grant funding through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) CDBG Disaster Recovery Program. These funds are managed through the State of Louisiana Office of Community Development/Disaster Recovery Unit for housing, economic development and infrastructure recovery.

To satisfy the complex housing needs of the Parish, the program was divided into categories specifically geared toward individuals: Homeowner Rehabilitation, Homebuyer Assistance, Housing Elevation and Small Rental Rehabilitation.

More than 700 residents completed the application process and are set to reap the benefits of a variety of programs. Contractors will work to repair 512 total properties in the upcoming months.

In addition, small businesses affected by Hurricane Isaac will receive financial assistance in the form of grants and low interest loans. These funds can be used to purchase equipment, inventory and/or to provide working capital for operations and recovery. Small businesses are essential to the economic growth of the Parish and it is our duty to ensure they fully recover from the storm of 2012.

Another way of ensuring their success is through programs at the Business Training Center.

This week we graduated 20 students of the bi-annual business development program, “FastTrac.”

Offered at the Business Training Center in Reserve, FastTrac participants are provided assistance with business plans, business and financial skills and strategies for immediate implementation.

We want our businesses and our residents to be successful and we will continue providing them the necessary resources to help them succeed and grow. If we work together, nothing — not severe weather, flooding or financial hurdles — can stop us.

Natalie Robottom is St. John the Baptist Parish President. She can be reached at