Projects at a Standstill Despite Funding Available

Projects at a Standstill Despite Funding Available

For anyone who has experienced rain in New Orleans, one thing is true: New Orleans is a city that floods. This statement is well-known around the world. New Orleans is also a city that still needs major infrastructure repairs since Hurricane Katrina struck the Big Easy more than 12 years ago. Not only did the hurricane create extensive damage, but the city is extremely old and did not have the funding to make repairs prior to Hurricane Katrina. That is all different now with FEMA-approved money, which the city had to be reapproved for in 2016.

Shortly after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, FEMA approved and granted $1.7 billion to the city for fixing water, sewer and drainage infrastructure. That did not happen because City Hall and the Sewage and Water Board had so many issues coordinating the infrastructure projects that FEMA had to re-approve the funding in 2016.

Now, a number of underground drain lines that carry water to different pump stations are on deck to be fixed using a portion of the $1.7 billion. Here’s where more problems lie: federal funding is bottlenecked and there are not enough staff to help move the projects forward. Out of the $1.7 billion, $250 million is for associated water and sewer lines.

The new mayor knows something can be done to help reduce flooding and complete the projects that have been building up for years. She is looking at long-term improvements, specifically green infrastructure projects designed to store large amounts of rainfall in retention ponds and underground cisterns, rather than letting it run off into drainage pipes. Federal money from FEMA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development has been approved for that work, but again, the work has been stuck in the design phase.

Despite the years of financing, there has been little to no work was done to enhance the city’s infrastructure. The new mayor feels differently and it’s one of her mission to get these projects rolling and see less flooding in their beloved New Orleans.

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