HUD releases guidance on $1.2B in storm mitigation funds

HUD has released federal guidance for how Louisiana can use $1.2 billion in flood mitigation funds. (Source: Roger Pottorff)

MONROE, La. (KNOE) - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, also known as HUD, has released federal guidance for how Louisiana can use its share of $6.8 billion in flood mitigation funds.

Louisiana was allocated $1.2 billion.

“Today’s guidance from HUD is long overdue. Our congressional delegation prioritized securing these funds to reduce flood risk and lower flood insurance premiums,” said Senator Dr. Bill Cassidy.

Per the federal guidelines, the state is required to spend at least 50 percent of the funds to benefit the 10 parishes designated as most impacted and distressed by the 2016 floods: Acadia, Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Livingston, Ouachita, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vermilion and Washington.

The money will fund construction of flood-protection projects, along with collecting qualitative data and developing computer modeling to assess, predict and prepare for water movement throughout the state. The data and modeling tools will help local governments select and prioritize long-term projects, as well as support regional planning efforts according to watersheds – areas connected by the natural flow of water as it travels to reach the lowest point in a landscape.

“This funding is critical to continuing flood mitigation work that began not long after the 2016 floods,” Pat Forbes, executive director of the Office of Community Development, said. “We are refining our action plan, which we began to draft months ago in anticipation of receiving this notice, to meet these parameters while continuing to gather information from stakeholders around the state on how these funds can best be used to reduce flood risk.”

The next step is for the state to submit an action plan by Feb. 3, 2020, but the state is working to submit its response as quickly as possible to begin the federal review and approval process.