FEMA trailer park in LaPlace no longer moving forward as housing need decreases

Published 4:44 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2022

LAPLACE — FEMA has decided not to move forward with construction of a 97-unit trailer park on Airline Highway in LaPlace.

The Rainbow site was presented as a solution to provide temporary housing to Hurricane Ida survivors at 2150 W. Airline Highway, across from the Geaux Chevrolet dealership in LaPlace. However, the need for temporary housing in St. John the Baptist Parish has greatly decreased.

A total of 881 St. John Parish families qualified for temporary emergency housing through FEMA in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Ida. By the last week of March 2022, 126 families still needed placement. A temporary conditional use permit was executed to allow for construction of the Rainbow site, which at the time was expected to accommodate 88 St. John Parish families estimated to still be in need by mid-July 2022.

As of August 2, 2022, only 10 St. John Parish families are still awaiting temporary housing placement through FEMA.

FEMA has identified housing solutions for seven of the 10 families as of August 2.

FEMA and St. John the Baptist Parish released the following joint statement Tuesday afternoon:

“In coordination with the Parish and state partners, the previous need for the group site has decreased considerably and building the park is no longer warranted. As of Aug. 2, the remaining three families in need of housing will move into existing commercial parks, group sites, private sites, or FEMAs Direct Lease program.  The site will be restored to its original condition. FEMA will continue to work with the Parish to ensure all needs are met for survivors in that community.”

Unless extended, FEMA’s Direct Housing program is effective for 18 months from the date of the disaster.

While plans initially called for nearly 100 units to be placed at the Rainbow site, a June 2022 drainage plan from the Corps of Engineers reduced the number of proposed units at the site by about half and provided for a retention pond to reduce immediate runoff discharge from the site. This was intended to limit the potential for drainage impacts to adjacent properties in the area.

According to FEMA, St. John Parish bears no financial responsibility for any of the costs of the development of the group site up to this point.

The temporary conditional use permit authorized by the Parish Council in March 2023 was designed to expire on March 1, 2023 without any permanent impacts to the site at 2150 W. Airline Highway.

As noted in the joint statement, the site will be restored to its original condition.