As the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and FEMA officials today detailed significant progress on New Orleans' recovery efforts since the Mayor took office in May 2010. Since Landrieu took office, a joint task force made up of officials from the City, Sewerage and Water Board, FEMA, and the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) meet regularly to coordinate and share information and to resolve issues as projects move from planning to construction. The City has met with FEMA officials in 215 meetings and site visits resulting in nearly 250 action items, and the funding for City projects has substantially increased over previous years.
Since August 29, 2005, the City and Sewerage and Water Board have received nearly $1.1 billion in total obligated FEMA funding. The City received about $706.6 million and Sewerage and Water Board received $376.5 million. This funding is reflected in 4,709 total project worksheets (PWs) which describe eligible work, the scope, and cost estimates for repair. Since Mayor Landrieu took office in May 2010, funding for City repairs has significantly surged over the past years-649 PWs have been produced resulting in $170.6 million. This equals more than $11 million per month. Further, 27 percent of funding for the City's permanent repairs has been obligated in this sixth year.
"When I came into office, the priority was clear. We wanted to get out of the recovery phase and get into the let's get it done phase," said Mayor Landrieu. "We wanted to make sure that the City receives everything we're entitled to but also begin to move beyond haggling and into construction. Our partnership with FEMA has netted significant results for our citizens. We will continue to work together so that our people are made whole and so that we're creating a smarter, safer, and more prosperous New Orleans."
In 2010, Mayor Landrieu identified over 100 committed projects that cover a range of facilities and projects from recreation to health clinics to libraries to streets to criminal justice facilities. This year, the projects are moving through the lifecycle more quickly, largely based on the closer collaboration and coordination with FEMA.
"We've learned that the key to restoring and rebuilding cities is to work with leaders to identify the projects that are essential to recovery and working out any issues that could derail the progress we want to maintain," said Tony Russell, Regional Administrator for FEMA. "We don't always agree on every point, but it is important for us to have an open dialogue and that's what we've achieved with Mayor Landrieu and his team."
Cedric Grant, the City's Deputy Mayor for Facilities, Infrastructure and Community Development said, "We realized early on that we needed to have a productive relationship with FEMA and work with them to make sure all eligible damages were identified. After all, the project worksheet is an evolving document and that has been the key in making sure the City has received the maximum amount in obligated funds."
Interim GOHSEP Director Pat Santos said, "As the 6th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, the New Orleans area has so much to look forward to as construction and growth continues. And as we've done in the past, the state, federal and local officials will work together to make this community more resilient and better than before."
One key achievement has been a second assessment of neighborhood streets. The first neighborhood to have new funds obligated in this program is the Lower Ninth Ward. As a result of this partnership, Mayor Landrieu and FEMA announced today an increase of nearly $45 million for Lower Ninth Ward street repairs, a major infrastructure improvement targeted for one of the hardest hit neighborhoods in Hurricane Katrina.
During Katrina, roadways throughout New Orleans were inundated with flood waters, resulting in widespread street damages. Additionally, excessive weight from emergency vehicles and construction trucks on the already vulnerable roadways caused further damages. As such, additional eligible damages have been realized.
Founded in 2006, the Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development (CSED) works to stimulate civic engagement, repopulate, sustain natural systems, assist community leadership and preserve resources in the Lower 9th Ward neighborhoods.
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Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable
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5130 Chartres Street
New Orleans, LA 70117
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Austin Allen, Louisiana State University
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Calvin Alexander, Lower Ninth Ward
William Becker, E3G, Natural Capitalism Solutions
M. David Lee, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Stull and Lee Inc.
Dave Macaulay, Green ArchiTEXT
Darryl Malek-Wiley, Sierra Club
Greer Mendy, Tekrema Center for Art and Culture
Earthea Nance, Texas Southern University
J.W. Tatum, Lower Ninth Ward