Feedback Wanted on $1.2B Flood Grant

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LAFAYETTE, LA — Over a billion dollars to prevent future flooding disasters is one step closer to being used.

Lafayette Parish and its unincorporated areas estimate over $750M of total losses in its last major flood event. Since it’s one of the 10 parishes most affected in recent years, it could also benefit the most from this grant.

“It’s more than just building projects but that’s an important part of it”, said Pat Forbes, executive director of the Louisiana Office of Public Development.

$1.2B is a lot to spend on fighting future flood disasters, but the Louisiana Watershed Initiative (LWI) hopes to use it in a non-traditional way.

According to Forbes, “This is our first stab at how do we set up a governance structure around these watershed regions”.

Currently, each city and parish is in charge of its own approach to flood mitigation, but when the great floods of 2016 hit our area, state leaders wanted to fundamentally change how we approach flood prevention.

LWI’s action plan divides the state into eight regions and outlines the risks each one faces. Forbes says it is “Because the risks the same for all of them if they share a watershed”.

The action plan also explains how the money will be divided. At least half of the grant has to be spent in the 10 most impacted parishes, which include Lafayette, Acadia, and Vermilion.

Now Forbes and the rest of his team want your feedback, “We are looking for input from folks about the risks and about the plan, so we can make it better. It is subject to change”.

The public comment period starts now until 45 days after the action plan is translated into Spanish. Forbe’s office will answer each response and send a revised action plan with comments and responses to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for approval.

Forbes expects the funding will be available for project ideas submissions later this fall, “This funding that we have, this watershed initiative puts us on the path to doing a better job of addressing those risks, so we don’t have our citizens suffering every time we have a major rainstorm”.

The grant money will be rolled out in three phases. The first $100M is slated for the beginning of 2020,
$200M should be appropriated by 20-22, and the remaining $270M given in 2024 or later.

HUD requires the state to spend half of the money within the first 6 years and the full amount within 12 years, but the Louisiana Office of Community Development hopes to wrap up two years earlier in 2030.

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