CHALMETTE, LA – December 19, 2008 – (RealEstateRama) — Chalmette High School (CHS) will receive further federal funding to cover additional repair work to the school, announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA).
“We are able to move forward with our plans to create a 1st-class high school facility for our students and this community because of our on-going partnership with FEMA,” said St. Bernard Parish Superintendent of Schools Doris Voitier. “By acknowledging the additional need for damage repair, FEMA has eased our burden in making that facility a reality for St. Bernard’s children.”
Chalmette High School’s facility consists of six attached buildings – the main classroom building, two gymnasiums, offices, the cafeteria and a media center. While the majority of the damages to these buildings were captured in FEMA’s initial inspections, the agency has increased its funding over the past three years to account for additional damages that were not originally accounted for.
FEMA’s recent funding increase of more than $1.7 million was provided to cover the costs of repair work to the windows and doors of the gymnasium, band building and the main school campus, which incurred both mechanical and structural damages as a result of Katrina’s high force winds, rain and standing flood waters.
“To date, we have provided over $26.1 million in public assistance grants to ensure that CHS fully returns to its pre-Katrina condition,” said Jim Stark, director of FEMA’s Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office. “While the school has been operating in its original capacity since 2006, we have remained committed to its full restoration as well as its expansion project, which encompasses the former Lacoste Elementary School across the street.”
After Hurricane Katrina, FEMA worked with the St. Bernard Parish School Board to create a federal funding solution for the expansion project. The result allowed the school board flexibility in receiving over $25.5 million in FEMA funds to redevelop the Katrina-destroyed Lacoste Elementary site into an expansion of CHS. The new CHS Lacoste Campus will receive a total of $51.6 million in federal funds.
“Louisiana’s education system continues to be a top priority for the LRA and the entire recovery effort, which is why we continue to work each day with our local and federal partners to ensure that projects are adequately funded,” said LRA Executive Director Paul Rainwater. “This increase in funding will help ensure quality education for the Chalmette community.”
Repair work to CHS’s windows and doors has not yet begun, but construction has begun on the expansion project, which will include an athletic complex, classrooms, cafeteria and a cultural arts center.
When project funds are obligated by FEMA through its supplemental Public Assistance grant, the funds are transferred to a federal Smartlink account. Once the funds have reached this account the applicant can request reimbursement from the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) for eligible work completed. Obligated funds may change over time as the project worksheet is a living grant that is often adjusted as bids come in and scope of work is aligned.
During his first day in office, Governor Bobby Jindal issued an Executive Order directing the LRA to be responsible for the state’s actions with regard to FEMA’s Public Assistance program. The LRA is working in conjunction with GOHSEP and its federal partners to identify ways to streamline the Public Assistance process and improve efficiency, with the ultimate goal of cutting in half the length of time that applications spend in the process.
The Public Assistance program works with state and local officials to fund recovery measures and the rebuilding of government and certain private nonprofit organizations’ buildings, as well as roads, bridges and water and sewer plants. In order for the process to be successful, federal, state and local partners coordinate to draw up project plans, fund these projects and oversee their completion.
FEMA coordinates the federal government’s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.
Veronica Mosgrove, GOHSEP
225-573-3718 / 225-358-5667
vmosgrove (at) OHSEP.louisiana (dot) gov