FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 24, 2010
Contact: Christina Stephens, email@example.com
State of Louisiana Awards More Than $8.8 Million for Improved Resiliency Plans in Gustav, Ike-affected Parishes, Cities
BATON ROUGE, La. - The state of Louisiana today awarded $8,848,888 to 29 projects that will help communities affected by hurricanes Gustav and Ike become more resilient in the event of future disasters by incorporating mitigation and sustainability strategies such as updated comprehensive plans, zoning ordinances and building code enforcements.
Grants were awarded to urban and rural communities across the state, including the cities of Alexandria, Lafayette, Monroe and Morgan City.
Office of Community Development-Disaster Recovery Unit Executive Director Robin Keegan said, "Since 2005, Louisiana has weathered four major hurricanes that have caused severe flooding and wind damage. This program will provide funding to support land use planning and promote strong code enforcement which, when paired with existing mitigation efforts including restoring our coastline, can protect communities from future loss.
"Community resiliency is the capability to anticipate and respond to natural or man-made hazards in an effort to limit negative impacts on people and property. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for promoting resiliency, so we must work with at-risk communities to develop appropriate solutions," Keegan said.
The competitive Comprehensive Resiliency Pilot Program is a $10 million pool of federal Community Development Block Grant money that will enable communities to be proactive in addressing risk and tying those factors into population growth, flood zones and economic development.
One of the projects to be funded through the program is the development of a comprehensive, integrated water management strategy and plan for Orleans, Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes. The plan builds upon an international partnership between the region, the American Planning Association and the Kingdom of the Netherlands known as the Dutch Dialogues. The strategy will be one of the first developed for a city located within in a subtropical climate zone and can serve as a model for other regions at risk.
Also funded is the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, which will develop a comprehensive regional housing study and strategic plan for the five parishes of Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron and Jefferson Davis. These parishes have an increased need for more quality housing units as a result of Gustav and Ike, as well as from previous hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
In addition, the nonprofit Global Green has identified a unique project to develop an economic development strategy in coastal parishes, based on wetland protection and carbon sequestration. Although the necessary science has yet to be developed for coastal Louisiana, some preliminary wetlands data suggests that coastal wetlands may absorb as much as six times more carbon than forests, placing these wetlands at the forefront of areas where emerging carbon investors might consider putting their dollars.
The 29 projects were selected by the OCD-DRU from a field of 87 submissions for resiliency planning. A second round of awards for building code enforcement will follow soon.
Drawn from Louisiana's $1 billion allocation of CDBG funds for recovery from hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008, all of the eligible projects must be focused on communities in the 53 parishes that were affected by these storms. The program will make Louisiana eligible to compete in a special $312 million Disaster Recovery Enhancement Fund that was made available in 2009 by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. The fund is designed to encourage states to spend their existing funding on programs that reduce the risk of loss of life and extent of future damage.
Lessons learned from the planning process will be compiled into a best practices resource available to all.
Created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in 2005, the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) is the coordinating and planning body leading the most extensive rebuilding effort in American history. The central point for hurricane recovery in Louisiana, the LRA works closely with the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) and partners with state and federal agencies to oversee more than $20 billion worth of programs, speed the pace of rebuilding, remove hurdles and red tape and ensure that Louisiana recovers safer and stronger than before.