Setting up a refined, yet flexible plan for long-term recovery after Hurricanes Laura and Delta was discussed at Thursday’s Calcasieu Parish Police Jury meeting.
Alberto Galan, with the office of administrator, said the plan is centered around six categories: housing, boosting the local economy, community planning, infrastructure, health and social services, along with natural and cultural resources.
The goals include creating a comprehensive and transparent plan, making effective and coordinated decisions and helping the community move from response to recovery. Galan said the parish will use FEMA’s National Disaster Recovery Framework to provide a structure that is flexible and offers a community-driven approach.
“We know (this area) will get hit by another hurricane,” Galan said. “The issue is whether or not we can recover in a quicker, more efficient fashion.”
Galan said the plan calls for bringing together community officials from various agencies.
“We need more hands on deck,” he said. “We need a good cross-section of representatives that represent our community as a whole.”
Galan also mentioned the need for an advisory group to secure funding for long-term recovery. Organizations in the group include FEMA, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the state Office of Community Development and the Police Jury.
“We need to leverage those dollars with what’s coming from the federal government to ensure that we are able to get the best bang for our buck and make sure we’re not wasting our efforts at the state and federal level,” he said.
Galan said short-term recovery, such as debris pick up and short-term housing, has been ongoing since the storms made landfall last year.
Some of the next steps include forming a collaborative team and finding out the biggest recovery needs in the community.
A press conference on the effort is set for Jan. 26 at the Burton Complex. Stakeholder meetings could start in February, Galan said.
“They’ll start exchanging ideas of what’s needed in the community,” he said. “As time goes on, they will report to the (Police Jury) updates, in addition to providing the public updates through social media and a lot of other forms of public engagement.”
Galan said some of these groups will steer funding to the most critical needs.
“We want to drive those dollars to what the community thinks we need,” he said.
District 7 Police Juror Chris Landry asked about plans to clear storm debris from drainage laterals.
“I think that’s our biggest immediate problem,” he said. “The rain is coming. It’s going to flood.”
Galan said the parish’s gravity drainage districts lack the manpower to quickly clear out the drainage laterals.
Parish Engineer Tim Conner said the effort is large and is going to cost more than the parish has on hand. Blockages have already been identified, and the parish is in the process of securing permits to allow for clearing debris from the laterals.
“It is in the works,” Conner said. “It’s a process that we don’t have complete control over.”
Parish Administrator Bryan Beam said the overall effort will be a larger job than collecting roadside debris.
“The reason is many of these areas are hard to reach,” he said. “It’s very time consuming.”