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|$3.7 million available for disaster recovery projects|
Ouachita Parish is set to receive $3.7 million from the Louisiana Recovery Authority for disaster-related projects.
In order to use the funding, the police jury must show the money would be used for projects that are somehow related to hurricanes Gustav and Ike.
Also, at least 51 percent of residents impacted by the projects must be considered to have low to moderate income.
That's according to the parish's independent consultant Gary Fontana, who assists the police jury with any funding related to the Community Development Block Grant program.
He discussed the proposed CDBG funding with parish officials Monday during the police jury's regular meeting.
The disaster recovery money could be used by the parish for projects to help mitigate problems that occurred when the hurricanes passed through northeast Louisiana last year.
Numerous homes and neighborhoods flooded when Gustav hit Ouachita Parish in early September.
Drainage improvement projects to address flooding have been a focus of several police jurors for the past several months.
Police jurors Dorth Blade, Mack Calhoun and Pat Moore have said numerous homes in their districts flood during heavy rain storms.
Parish engineer Don Harrison said recently that the disaster recovery money could possibly used to address drainage projects to eliminate flooding problems.
"If we can show something happened and we need to build something or construct something to mitigate it from happening again, then yes, we can do that with these funds," Fontana said. "This is going to be a process, there's no doubt about that, and probably all the projects you want to do will not fit into this program."
If the parish cannot identify any projects that meet CDBG's criteria, the money must be returned to the Louisiana Recovery Authority.
The LRA funding is for all communities in Ouachita Parish, not just the police jury, Fontana said.
Meetings will be held with all governmental entities in Ouachita Parish to determine how the money will be distributed.
"The $3.7 million is the parish's money … you all are not competing with anyone else to obtain this money," Fontana said. "All you have to do now is find projects that meet the criteria. You can have as many projects as you want, but each one of them must meet those criteria."
To receive the funding, the police jury agreed Monday to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with the state's Office of Community Development, which administers the Louisiana Community Development Block Grant Program.