Friday, August 29, 2014
Today marks two years since Hurricane Isaac inundated St. John the Baptist Parish with flood waters, leaving 7,000 homes damaged and our Parish in disarray. Although the destruction was devastating, it forced our small community to come together for an unprecedented response and recovery.
Since August 29, 2012, St. John the Baptist Parish is about 95% recovered. Over 191,000 volunteer hours have been recorded in the parish through the Long Term Recovery (SJBP LTRG) Group, in addition to countless volunteers, families, and friends who leant a helping hand to those in need. Only 9 cases remain open in the SJBP LTRG with a goal to complete the cases by the end of the year.
The Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC), established just weeks after Hurricane Isaac, completed a Community Recovery Strategy with citizen-driven projects and possible funding sources. The final document includes fifty projects identified under five categories: Economic, Housing, Health and Social Services, Infrastructure, and Natural and Cultural Resources. Thirty-eight of the fifty projects are at various phases of development and the committee continues to meet and work toward completion of all projects in the plan.
A $32 million Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) was awarded to St. John shortly after Isaac and the parish will be rolling out Housing Programs in the coming months. The programs will include Homeowner Rehabilitation/Elevation, Homebuyer Assistance, Demolition and Clearance, and Small Rental Rehabilitation. In addition to the Housing Programs, funds have also been allocated to Economic Development and Infrastructure. Infrastructure funds were allocated to the St. John School Board to assist with their local match for rebuilding two schools damaged by Hurricane Isaac. More information on the Housing Programs will be released within the coming weeks prior to the application period.
More than 155,068 linear feet of drainage canals, catch basins and drain lines have been cleared in areas affected by the storm. Twelve fire stations and fire hydrants throughout the parish have undergone repairs and an interim protection plans have been completed for the Ruddock Water System. By early 2015, recommendations for a permanent and reliable water system for LaPlace will be presented to the Council for consideration.
The Parish is also focused on eight projects funded through the Hazard Mitigation Program that will also address drainage problems throughout the Parish. “Although the parish faced historical devastation on August 29, 2012, our community came together for a quick response and plan for recovery. There are countless projects being worked on daily with a strong commitment to building back better and stronger. Thank you to all who have participated in our efforts and continue to support St. John Parish,” said Parish President Natalie Robottom.