Louisiana Recovery Authority - Paul Rainwater, Executive Director - State of LouisianaThe mission of the Louisiana Recovery Authority is to ensure that Louisiana rebuilds safer, stronger and smarter than before.

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Task Forces

There are currently two active LRA Task Forces:

Housing Task Force

Southwest Louisiana Task Force (formerly Rita Task Force)

Committee and Task Force Archives*
Economic and Workforce Development
Hurricanes Katrina & Rita impacted 81,000 businesses in the 13 most impacted parishes, affecting hundreds of thousands of employers and employees. In the months after Hurricane Katrina, the state saw a 766 percent increase in initial unemployment claims and paid out more than $1 billion in Unemployment Insurance and Disaster Unemployment Assistance Benefits to 300,000 applicants.

By February 2006, the Economic and Workforce Development Committee and LRA staff had developed these long-term priorities:

  • Provide financial assistance for businesses
  • Ensure that companies have access to qualified workers
  • Revamp the state’s tax structure and economy
  • Develop a strategy to facilitate and support the start-up and growth of companies
  • Develop a strategy to help rural areas create quality jobs and increase wealth
  • Develop new industries that take advantage of rebuilding efforts and regional resources and create high quality jobs
  • Assist our proven, dominant industries to stabilize our economic base
  • Improve business and investor confidence
This committee was instrumental in developing economic recovery initiatives including the Business Recovery Grant and Loan Program and the Recovery Workforce Training Program. Within two years of the storms, Louisiana had climbed back to within 3 percent of of its pre-storm employment.

Infrastructure and Transportation

After hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Louisiana faced major infrastructure damage, from compromised levees and closed ports to damaged bridges and hundreds of roadways that spent days and weeks under water. One of the first acts of the Task Force was to adopt these long-term priorities:

  • Repair and prioritization of upgrades to hurricane flood protection system, including support for integration of hurricane protection and coastal restoration.
  • Expeditious re-construction of our communities’ homes, businesses, and industries.
  • Improved development of policies to mitigate future hurricane impacts on all coastal resources.
  • Repair and prioritization of all hurricane damaged public port infrastructure.
  • Restoration of transportation and utility systems, enhancing evacuation capabilities, and facilitating economic recovery.
  • Assisting oil, gas and pipeline industry restoration and recovery efforts.

Environmental

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita left behind an estimated 60.3 million cubic yards of debris, including more than 20 million pounds of hazardous waste and more than 300,000 vehicles. The vision of the Environmental Task Force was to rebuild structures stronger, more energy and environmentally efficient to withstand future disasters. Priorities to reach this vision are:

  • Restoration of wastewater services infrastructure;
  • Removal and disposal of debris/waste in disaster areas;
  • Clean-up of hazardous materials at non-operational sites;
  • Development of communication strategy for distribution of environmental information;
  • Development of safer, more efficient construction practices to reduce reliance on conventional energy
  • sources, reducing air emissions;
  • Restoration of impacted commercial and recreational fisheries infrastructures;
  • Removal of vessels (e.g. debris, identifying ownership, salvage);
  • Recovery of jurisdictional utilities to include restoration, rebuild and sustainability of wastewater
  • services. Specifically, the PSC will be tasked with evaluating any requests by jurisdictional utilities for
  • recovery through rates of hurricane-related expenses.

Public Health and Healthcare

The storms of 2005 damaged 141 hospitals in Louisiana, destroyed clinics that served low-income residents and affected  public water systems. The storms initially closed 30 hospitals. Two years after the storm, six hospitals remained closed, including five in New Orleans. South Cameron Memorial Hospital, the only hospital in Cameron Parish, reopened in November 2007.

The LRA Public Health and Health Care Task Force worked closely with the Bring New Orleans Back Commission’s Health and Social Services Committee to examine health care issues. and identify specific long-term components of the State’s healthcare infrastructure. These additional components, or priority areas, are as follows:

  • Redesign of a Sustainable System of Health Care
  • Healthcare Workforce & Medical Education
  • Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Planning

Human Services

The human toll of hurricanes Katrina and Rita amounted to more than those who perished in the storms. Initially, 1.3 million people were displaced. A year after the storms, 900,000 still had not returned home. Nearly 500,000 people relied on Disaster Food Stamp Benefits in the weeks and months after the storms.

The Human Service Task Force focused its efforts on the substantive programs within the Departments of Social Services, Health and Hospitals and the Office of Youth Development. Initial priorities included:

  • Coordinating and integrating service delivery for improved outcomes for Louisiana citizens
  • Challenging state departments to coordinate complimentary services, applications for services, and work toward common outcomes for citizens
  • Reducing poverty in Louisiana through investments in human capital
  • Continuing to implement a comprehensive approach to improving the well being of Louisiana’s children
  • Planning and coordinating outreach with Louisiana Family Recovery Corps
  • Maximizing use of technology to encourage mobile workers, shared applications, structured decisions, and reduced duplication

Education

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita heavily impacted Louisiana's Pre-Kindergarten - 12th grade education. Nearly 176,000 students were displaced, including more than 72,000 who left the state. 12,000 teachers were displaced. In New Orleans alone, the storms closed 71 schools.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita initially displaced 84,000 college and university students. For the 2005-06 school year – the full year that included both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita – the state saw a drop of more than 37,000 college and university students statewide.

The Task Force developed these priorities to address both PK-12 and post-secondary education in Louisiana.
PK-12 Education Priorities:

  • Develop a comprehensive, state-of-the art education system to address the needs of all returning children that will be a model for reform, including: consulting with top education experts and think tanks on best practices for education delivery and facilities;
  • attracting and retaining the best school leaders for administration and in the classroom;
  • rigorous, comprehensive statewide curricula to maximize student achievement;
  • leading PK-12 education practices such as: 21st century technology throughout the school experience;
  • universal access to early childhood education;
  •  and adequate funding for education to ensure that every child has access to an excellent education.

Post-Secondary Education Priorities:

  • Develop viable options to re-establish an improved postsecondary education system.
  • Identify and provide incentives for displaced Louisiana college and university students to reenroll.
  • Develop and evaluate a plan to handle future crises of this magnitude.
One year after the storms, Louisiana was at 95 percent of the number of public schools open before Katrina and Rita, with 1,408 public schools open statewide. In the year after the storms, 18 of the 118 public schools in New Orleans reopened and 33 additional Recovery School District (RSD) schools or RSD Charter Schools opened. Within a year of the storms, all schools in the parishes of Cameron and Calcasieu, hard hit by Hurricane Rita, had reopened. In the first full school year after Katrina and Rita, 2006-07, Louisiana’s higher education population was at almost 91 percent of pre-Katrina and Rita levels.

Coastal Protection

Coastal protection, is focused on protecting South Louisiana from future hurricanes through a combination of levee systems and coastal wetland restoration. Integration of these two efforts into a single function in order to best protect the state is critical to the success of the rebuilding effort. Priorities within this area are:

  • Integration of comprehensive hurricane protection and coastal restoration strategy
  • State leadership role for levee system
  • Appropriate statewide hurricane protection system
  • Restoration of sustainable coastal wetlands

During the special session of the Legislature in November 2005, legislation was passed creating the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA ), a single state body with responsibility for hurricane protection levees and coastal restoration. This legislation and the need for integration of hurricane protection and coastal restoration was endorsed an supported by the LRA. The CPRA is responsible for developing a statewide plan for coastal protection. The legislation also gives the CPRA authority to ensure local levee boards comply fully with the statewide master plan. The CPRA closely monitors levee repair and planning activities of the Army Corps of Engineers.

 Long-Term Community Planning

The Long-Term Community Planning Task Force coordinated the Louisiana Speaks planning effort. Louisiana Speaks is a multifaceted planning process, designed to develop a sustainable, long-term vision for South Louisiana in the wake of the destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The goal of the long-term community planning process is to develop a comprehensive plan that integrates both parish plans (coordinated with the support of FEMA technical assistance) and regional recovery plans. Building on the AIA/APA principles for rebuilding and the LRA’s principle of safer, stronger, smarter, this process includes four components:

  • Engagement of Key Stakeholder Groups to ensure equity
  • Implementation of parish level recovery planning
  • Implementation of regional planning process
  • Integration of parish, regional and statewide planning processes

 The Long-Term Community Planning Task Force was also a defining force of the state's Long Term Community Planning program, which allocated $700 million so that parishes could design and implement their own long-term plans.

*Committee/Task Force pages are no longer updated