Louisiana to get $1.2 billion in federal flood-control funds; these long-stalled projects could benefit


Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG — Aerial of the Comite Diversion Canal. Looking west. Mississippi River at top.

WASHINGTON — The federal government will be sending more than $1.2 billion in grant money to pay for flood-control and prevention projects in the state, Gov. John Bel Edwards and U.S. Rep. Garret Graves announced Thursday.

A number of long-stalled U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects in the state — including the Comite River Diversion Canal, New Orleans-area flood protection projects or parts of the Morganza to the Gulf levee system — could get funded through the massive federal allocation.

Just which projects will be in line for the funds remains unclear. Edwards said in a statement Thursday evening that state officials are waiting for details from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — the agency handling the grant — on exactly how the dollars can be spent.

The cash comes out of a larger pot of grant money included in a roughly $90 billion disaster-recovery package Congress passed in February primarily to respond to a series of devastating hurricanes and deadly wildfires that pummeled Texas, Florida, California and the U.S. Caribbean territories of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in 2017.

Although the package was largely aimed at disasters last year, Louisiana was also eligible for money to beef up flood defenses in parishes hit with floods in 2016.

The $1.2 billion grant is roughly twice as much money as Louisiana officials initially expected to receive under the program.

“This new investment from HUD is critically important to our rebuilding efforts,” Edwards said. “It will allow us to make investments in flood risk reduction and infrastructure projects in areas of our state that were devastated by the 2016 floods, including partnering with the Army Corps of Engineers to make investments in large-scale projects such as the Comite River Diversion Canal.”

Graves, a Baton Rouge Republican, said in a phone interview Thursday evening that the block-grant funding from HUD provides Louisiana considerable flexibility to decide which projects to invest in and frees the state to move on Corps projects that have sat stalled for years.

Efforts to clear debris from bayous and ditches in flood-hit parishes could also receive funding under the HUD grant, Graves said.

“These resources will be used as part of an overall solution for Comite (River Diversion Canal) — a solution that will include Army Corps of Engineers funding — but will also give Louisiana flexibility to directly take the lead on implementing and completing projects instead of being held hostage by the bureaucracy of the Corps,” Graves said in a statement.

The Corps is also expected to budget additional money for flood-control work in Louisiana in the coming months.

Congress sent the Corps roughly $12.5 billion for flood protection projects in states hit by recent disasters as part of the February disaster package and also included hundreds of millions in extra funding for the Corps in the recently passed federal budget.

Corps officials have not yet announced which specific projects will be built with that money. Graves said Thursday he’s been working with officials at the Corps to prioritize critical Louisiana projects, including Comite and the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Levee Project, an 18-mile stretch of levees that would protect parts of the River Parishes against floodwaters from the lake.

The $90 billion disaster-relief relief package passed Congress in early February as part of a broader budget deal that kept the federal government operating and raised budget caps. A majority of Louisiana’s congressional delegation — including Graves — voted against the overall bill.

Graves at the time criticized the overall deal for driving up the federal budget deficit and criticized congressional leaders for cutting a number of changes to federal disaster-relief policy, including a broader fix to rules blocking flooded homeowners who’d been approved for SBA loans from tapping federally funded rebuilding grants.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, backed the package, as did Reps. Ralph Abraham, R-Alto, and Clay Higgins, R-Port Barre.

“Congressman Scalise was proud to work with his colleagues in Congress and the Trump Administration to pass the disaster appropriations bill that provided these important funds to help Louisiana continue rebuilding after the 2016 floods and further protect families and communities in Louisiana against future storms,” a spokesperson for Scalise said Thursday night.


A native of New Orleans, who left her beloved New Orleans to spend twenty years of living in the land of Minnesota Not So Nice. Minnesota was full of opportunities but would learn that the soul of the state and the people who made it was just as icy cold as the temperatures. After the years and my 40th birthday flew by, I decided it was time to pack up my youngest child and come back to my roots, my birthplace the city that not only birthed me but gave me life. I would not be who I am without my New Orleans beginnings. I am all things that would challenge the belief of growing up in New Orleans. I was a 16yr old teen mother of a premature baby born with a severe medical disability. And only With the help of my mother, was it possible for me to BE! I was able to endure and survive the obstacles laid before my child and me. In a city that was built by my family, but did not allow for us to reap the benefits I overcame. Charity Hospital was my second home — a building filled with miracle workers who made it possible for my daughter to have life. I have lived a life of rainy days with peeks of sunshine, that are my children, including those not of my womb. I'm the proud mother of three and a grandmother of three. My dream was to live the life of the nursery rhyme of ”The Old Lady Who lived in a shoe,” and for the most part, I did. I cared for several children over the years as a special needs foster parent. I would learn that my love was not enough for some children, but I loved them through their pain. I'm not sure if I ever had a case of true love or came close to what love looks like on television, but I had my share of men and the mirage of love. I survived two abusive marriages. Though I longed to return to New Orleans on a daily bases, I must admit my move was one of the best decisions made for me. I am a college graduate; I was a successful entrepreneur. I coowned a soul food restaurant and catering company in Minnesota for 12 years. I developed the talent of creating custom cakes after the murder of my beloved cousin Melvin Paul. He survived Katrina only to go to Minneapolis six months later to be murdered over a parking spot dispute. But with the challenge of creating a simple wedding cake, I was able to find healing. I created the House of Cakes in honor of him. Minnesota life had me pretty materialistic. I worked to the point I do not remember much, but work and handing my children love money. I thought by having the big house on the hill, a husband, having a family, the ultimate provider and being involved in all things that matter, plus having the funds to match would cure me of what I was told was a generational curse of lack of everything from money, love to even self-love. But for the most part, that life poisoned my heart and soul. I was blinded by visions fed to me by the media. I was told I wasn't anything unless I was better than the Jones's. I lived being ok with a broken, bleeding heart. Life like this did not exist in my family while living in New Orleans from what I viewed with my eyes and soul. We may not have had all the things I acquired over the years, but we were happy, we were together. Family outside of New Orleans wasn't family anymore. We lived separate lives and had awkward moments when we bumped into each other in public. I hated living in Minnesota even though life their helped me in so many ways. I felt deep down the only way to repair it was to get back to my roots, my soul, my home, myself, my New Orleans. I'm here, and I love it. Even being in the so-called Blighted Area of New Orleans and not having all the financial and material security, I'm happy. I am determined that She, yes, New Orleans is a woman is just like me; together, we will overcome and will rise from all that tried to kill our spirit. Nothing like starting from the bottom and making your way back up!. I just know in my heart that New Orleans will provide for me. There's a bank account with funds in it owed to me by way of back pay for my ancestors. And I will receive my inheritance, and I will continue the traditions and customs of the old to keep the heartbeat of New Orleans beating. I'm down in the boot, living the life that feels right to me awaiting my destiny...

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