Louisiana’s Terrebonne Parish Demolishing Storm Damaged Homes

December 17, 2010

Terrebonne Parish is planning to demolish about 450 hurricane-damaged homes, mostly in low-lying bayou communities.

Parish officials said the structures will be torn down this spring because they are in such dilapidated condition that they pose a threat during future storms. Many of the homes were flooded by Hurricane Ike in 2008.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is paying for the work, has given the parish $4.3 million for the project, said Geoffrey Large, the parish’s assistant planning director.

The parish is asking FEMA for another $1.4 million to complete the demolitions by the federal government’s March 31 deadline, he said.

Other parishes have taken advantage of the FEMA program, according to Veronica Mosgrove, a spokeswoman for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

Mosgrove said FEMA paid to demolish about 17,000 residential and commercial structures in Louisiana after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. More than 500 buildings are being demolished in Cameron, St. James, Jefferson and Terrebonne parishes because of Ike and Gustav in 2008, she said.

In Terrebonne Parish, the homes had to go through a condemnation hearing and many of them had previously flooded or were already abandoned. Not only are those homes a beacon for criminal activity, they’re also in danger of becoming debris that could clog the parish’s drainage system, said parish Planning Director Pat Gordon.

“At some point that structure is going to collapse and create an even bigger problem to the parish,” he said.

As of last week, 248 homes and buildings had been torn down, with about 40 of those done by the owners themselves because they wanted to salvage the lumber or metal, Gordon said.

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