Posted by: Joe Threat, Acting Executive Director, FEMA Louisiana Recovery Office
As 2010 draws to a close, it’s customary to reflect upon the highlights of the past year. For us at the Louisiana Recovery Office, 2010 most notably marked the 5th anniversaries of both hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It’s difficult to imagine that so much time has passed. As Administrator Fugate pointed out, we know the rebuilding efforts have been incredibly challenging and frustrating at time, but they have also been a powerful testament to the courage, hope and determination of the people of the Gulf Coast and it’s impressive to see that progress is still moving forward at full speed. Additionally, Louisiana was impacted by hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008 and those recovery efforts also continue.
In fact, local parishes invited us to nearly 50 groundbreakings and grand openings of new facilities this year. Construction is vibrant throughout the state, and I am personally proud of the role FEMA has played in helping provide the federal funding for these recovery efforts. More than $3 billion was awarded in 2010 to help rebuild public infrastructure following the four hurricanes. One project that stands out significantly is the $1.8 billion in FEMA funding provided to the Orleans Parish School Board and Recovery School District. Children across Orleans Parish will benefit from this funding, which will help reconstruct more than 80 school campuses in New Orleans.
Meanwhile, property owners throughout the state have been strengthening and elevating their homes and businesses, better preparing them for future storm events. Just recently, $100 million was funded to the state of Louisiana to help such mitigation efforts. We’ve also been updating flood maps and providing outreach to communities, resulting in eight parishes adopting new maps in 2010.
Perhaps one of our most significant accomplishments has been the continued transition of families out of temporary housing such as travel trailers and mobile homes into more permanent, long-term housing solutions. We are continuing to do everything we can to help families still living in temporary housing find more permanent, long-term housing solutions. Working closely with the state, we were able to assist 741 Katrina/Rita households and 276 Gustav/Ike households transition into safer, more viable living arrangements.
As this chapter in our recovery closes, the Louisiana Recovery Office looks forward to what the future will bring. 2011 promises many new challenges and accomplishments, and every one of them will take us one step closer to full recovery.