NEW ORLEANS — Local officials were hopeful that President Barack Obama’s disaster declaration issued Thursday could help them restore their communities to their pre-flood levels.
While there is still uncertainty about how the St. Mary Parish Levee District could benefit from the declaration, Director Bill Hidalgo said he was hopeful it means that the remaining 25 percent cost share for work to implement and now remove the Bayou Chene barge can be covered. The federal government already is covering 75 percent of the work and the levee district is responsible for the remainder.
Hidalgo said the levee district has other repair work to be done in the parish in response to the flood and said the district will have to determine if the funding could be used for those projects, too.
Hidalgo said it appears the funds may be handled by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. He said the levee district has been in contact with GOHSEP to get on the list for possible enhanced funding.
Morgan City Mayor Tim Matte said the declaration should help with applications for monies spent and those that need to be spent, as well as enable funding to be funneled down more easily to municipalities.
Berwick Mayor Louis Ratcliff said the town would be looking to see if any of their repair work from the flood qualifies for this disaster assistance.
St. Mary Parish Chief Administrative Officer Henry “Bo” LaGrange said the parish would be eyeing repair work at its boat landings on the unprotected side of levees as well as Avoca Road on Avoca Island, which was damaged during this spring’s flood fight.
Obama’s declaration for Louisiana allows state and local governments to apply for federal funds to repair damage from Mississippi River flooding earlier this year.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency says Thursday’s disaster declaration covers 15 parishes affected by flooding between April 25 and July 7.
On a cost-sharing basis, government bodies and certain private nonprofit groups can apply for funds to repair or replace damaged buildings, roads, bridges and other structures and pay for debris removal and emergency expenses.
St. Mary is joined in the declaration by Assumption, Avoyelles, Concordia, East Carroll, Lafourche, Madison, Point Coupee, St. Charles, St. James, St. Landry, St. Martin, Tensas, Terrebonne and West Feliciana parishes.