Pastor Bernard honored for long-term recovery efforts

Published 1:49 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

LAPLACE — A non-profit agency established in the wake of Hurricane Isaac in 2012 and re-engaged after Hurricane Ida is continuing to provide assistance to St. John the Baptist Parish residents more than a year after the storm devastated the area.

 Pastor Neil Bernard of St. John Parish Long-Term Recovery told parish council members during their meeting April 11 an estimated 75% to 80% of the homes in the parish sustained some type of damage during the catastrophic storm. He said some residents endured two weeks without water and others up to a month without electricity.

Bernard said during the past year the faith-based group has mucked and gutted houses, installed insulation and dry wall, put up doors and windows, replaced shingles and roofs, among other services.

 He said 5,315 volunteers from 42 states and six countries have logged an estimated 117,600 hours. 

 “Volunteers are the lifeblood behind any recovery effort,” he said. 

 According to Bernard, those volunteers have distributed 1.85 million pounds of food and 36,400 hot meals and have also provided 123 pieces of new furniture.

 Of the 904 homes the group is scheduled to repair, 622 have been completed. 

 “We are about 85% compete,” he said. 

 The organization’s mission is to assist families who are uninsured and under insured to rebuild their homes and their lives.

 In other council news, an ordinance was approved to rezone a lot in the Air Park subdivision from Industrial District Two to Industrial District Three. Parish Director of Planning and Zoning Dr. Tara Lambeth said the ordinance will enable future retail development in the area.

 Council members also approved authorizing the administration to award a bid of $623,750 to FCA Construction of Harahan for repairs to the courthouse in Edgard, which was damaged during Ida. The project will be funded through the Hurricane Ida Fund with FEMA reimbursement, according to parish Director of Purchasing Peter Montz. 

 Montz said the work should be completed in 120 days.

 When questioned about the delay, Montz explained the first bid came in over budget, forcing the parish go through a second bid process. 

 However, because of the delay, the second bid was lower, to the point that the parish is able to fund some of the alternatives.

 Parish President Jaclyn Hoard explained that more than 100 parish facilities were damaged during the storm and said the process of developing the scope of work, the public procurement process, going out for bid, meeting with the insurance representatives and exercising caution to meet the FEMA reimbursement guidelines is a lengthy process. 

 Montz also recommended the parish execute a certificate of substantial completion for the installation of the new synthetic turf field at REGALA Park.

 Council chairman Tom Malik said the field is a “gorgeous addition to the facility.”