Flood Cost Louisiana Parish Over $2M

March 21, 2012

The bill for debris cleanup and repairs of damaged roads and water systems from last week’s flooding is expected to climb above $2 million in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana officials said Monday.

The Advocate reports That’s in addition to the yet-to-be-tallied repair costs for an estimated 1,300 homes in the Acadiana region affected by flooding during intense rain March 12.

Flood damage was concentrated mostly in northern Lafayette Parish, according to preliminary damage estimates.

About 850 homes were affected in Carencro and the surrounding rural areas, authorities said.

Residents continue to haul water-logged furniture and other flood debris from their homes and yards. Officials in Carencro and Lafayette said Monday it could cost as much as $600,000 to pay a contractor to haul away the debris.

The removal has been slowed by federal guidelines for the contracting process that must be followed if local governments are to have a chance of being reimbursed for debris removal by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“If FEMA doesn’t do it, then it falls on the taxpayers of Lafayette,” City-Parish President Joey Durel said.

Preparations were being made Monday to negotiate contracts for the debris removal, but no firm timeline had been set.

“We have a serious issue on our hands. I would encourage the administration and the council not to drag their feet on this issue,” said City-Parish Councilman Jay Castille, who represents portions of north Lafayette and also serves as Carencro city manager. “You think the hurricane was bad, it wasn’t. This is unbelievable.”

The bulk of the debris removal work is in the Carencro city limits, and that city also is facing at least $1 million and possibly a “couple of million” dollars worth of flood-related damage to its sewer system, Castille said.

Lafayette city-parish government has estimated about $560,000 in expenses for cleaning debris from bridges and repairing flood-damaged roads, bridges and drainage infrastructure, said Tom Carroll, city-parish director of public works.

That damage estimate could rise, because some roads are still covered with water that might be seeping down into the road base and setting the stage for future problems.

Some of the water-soaked roadways are already showing obvious signs of damage, Carroll said.

“We have roads where some of the asphalt has starting popping off,” he said.

There was no word Monday about whether the flooding in Acadiana last week rises to the level to justify a federal disaster declaration, a designation that opens the door for federal assistance for homeowners and reimbursements to local government for flood-related expenses.

Castille said FEMA representatives were in the area on Monday doing damage assessments.

While recovery work continues, some areas along the Vermilion River in north Lafayette were still facing high water that could be pushed back up if rains revisit the area this week as expected.

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