Louisiana Parishes Secure $207 Million to Bolster Defenses Against Future Storms
Mitch Landrieu, the White House infrastructure czar, made a triumphant return to his hometown on Monday, unveiling a substantial $207 million allocation to bolster the resilience of several Louisiana parishes, including New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, against the looming threat of powerful storms. Flanked by U.S. Representative Troy Carter and other political figures, Landrieu conducted a press conference outside the Gretna government center, revealing a range of projects set to receive funding. This financial injection is part of the $1.2 trillion comprehensive infrastructure package sanctioned by Congress in the previous year.
The funds, according to Landrieu and Carter, will be primarily directed toward procuring and elevating numerous homes that are susceptible to flooding in Jefferson and Orleans parishes, as well as other regions like St. Tammany, St. Charles, St. Mary, St. John, East Baton Rouge, St. Martin, and Livingston parishes. Additionally, a portion of the funding will be dedicated to enhancing the resilience of the electrical grid in Jefferson Parish, which suffered significant damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida the preceding year.
In his address, Landrieu emphasized the severity of climate change impacts, acknowledging the various forms of extreme weather like floods, droughts, wildfires, and more that affect millions of Americans annually. He commended President Biden's "Investing in America" agenda for providing the most substantial investment in resilience in the nation's history. Landrieu affirmed that the funding being channeled into Louisiana would act as a lifeline for communities striving to fortify themselves against future challenges.
Carter joined the conversation, underscoring the reality of climate change and the importance of building communities that are not only more resilient but also safer and fairer. "We know these storms are coming," he added, highlighting the necessity of preparedness.
The funding model stipulates that local governments contribute 10% to 25% of the overall project costs, with the federal government covering the remaining expenses. Notably, the Entergy project, aimed at hardening the energy grid in Jefferson Parish, will see the utility covering the parish's share of the expenses.
The allocation of funding is contingent upon FEMA's final review of applications, and as of now, all Louisiana local governments are set to receive the funds unless any issues arise in this review process.
Among the standout projects, Jefferson Parish will receive $19 million to reinforce Entergy's energy grid to withstand winds of up to 150 mph, a standard set by the utility company itself. The White House has also greenlit seven distinct projects in Jefferson Parish for funding. Lafayette Parish is slated to receive $4.5 million from FEMA to elevate and acquire 18 flood-prone properties, while Terrebonne Parish is granted $38 million for the construction of a new correctional facility, relocating from its flood-vulnerable current location.
The recipients of these funds were pleasantly surprised by the announcements, as FEMA advanced their applications to the next stage without prior notice.
Brandon Scardigli, spokesperson for Entergy, affirmed that they have identified multiple projects that would enhance electrical infrastructure resilience on both sides of Jefferson Parish.
Terrebonne Parish President Gordie Dove acknowledged that the news was essentially confirmation of their continued progress in the funding application process.
Representative Carter mentioned that some recipients might not have been formally notified yet of their impending windfall.
The funds are sourced from a $1.8 billion pool allocated by the Biden administration for critical resilience projects under the "Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities" competition. An additional nationwide pool of $642 million is designated to finance flood mitigation assistance projects across the country.