Watershed programs top priority for Louisiana's $1.2 billion grant
BATON ROUGE - Governor John Bel Edwards has good news surrounding flood aid. The state has been awarded hundreds of millions dollars in newly-allocated funds.
With the new money, the state says it's going to make a plan that will reduce the risk for future disasters similar to the August 2016 flood.
“That's a sizable amount of money,” said Edwards. “We have started developing plans that we can implement.”
“We have to do this smarter and that means looking at watershed,” added the Office of Community Development Director, Pat Forbes.
During a Restore Louisiana Task Force meeting, Forbes said the majority of the $1.2 billion will go toward watershed-based projects including flood storage.
“How do we set up the architecture and infrastructure for spending that across the state? Frankly, in smarter ways than we have in the past,” Forbes said.
Other possible uses for the money include large projects like the Comite River diversion project and voluntary buyouts.
“It would give us an opportunity to help with the folks in the flood ways, to help some of these communities like Pecan Acres that have flooded 12 times in the past 10 years,” said Forbes.
He says that is if buyouts are an eligible activity under the SBA guidelines. The state is still waiting on the language of the federal notice to come out.
Since the funds are coming from The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the question is how easy will it be to use the money.
“It's going to carry the same red tape and bureaucracy with it that all of our CDBG funds do,” said Forbes.
The Office of Community Development recognizes there are a lot of people that haven't been able to bounce back from the flood.
“We know we can never move fast enough to get folks back in their homes,” said Forbes.
But with more money, the department is hoping for more relief, and a stronger system to prevent future disasters.
The Restore Louisiana Task Force approved a resolution Friday regarding the allocation for mitigation activities. The next step is drafting and submitting an Action Plan Amendment to submit to HUD. Then program guidelines will be created.
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