FEMA reimbursement could support canal drainage improvements

Published 6:00 am Saturday, October 16, 2021

LAPLACE — Costs for canal drainage improvements and dredging currently ongoing in St. John the Baptist Parish may be lightened by FEMA reimbursements, thanks to quick thinking by parish administrators.

Parish Director of Purchasing and Procurement Director Peter Montz crafted a resolution that was adopted by the Parish Council during its meeting this past Tuesday in LaPlace, ratifying an amendment with LA Contracting Enterprise, the contractor for the current drainage work.

The amendment allows the parish to expand the original scope of the project and included verbiage required to comply with FEMA regulations to be eligible for potential reimbursement.

The work had begun prior to the eye of Hurricane Ida passing over the parish and causing widespread damage. But the aftermath of the storm has filled many canals with large branches and limbs from downed trees, which could be covered under FEMA guidelines.

“We want to get as much debris as we can while the contract is still active,” Montz said.

According to Montz, the contract will expand to only those canals that the parish has permits to dredge.

“We do have a window of opportunity to get reimbursed,” Parish President Jaclyn Hotard said.

Hotard also reported that the massive West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Levee Project continues to move forward and that three contracts are already underway. She was also pleased to report that the storm surges created by Ida would not have topped the height of the new levee, once it is complete.

More than 600,000 cubic yards of debris have been collected in the parish as the cleanup continues. As recovery efforts continue, Hotard asked residents to please refrain from using state highways as dumping grounds.

According to the parish president, more than 18,000 parish residents have registered with FEMA, and approximately 1,300 blue roofs have been installed in St. John.