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State Awards More Than $15 Million to Rapides Parish for Program to Recertify Red River Levees

July 31, 2012

BATON ROUGE, La. - Representatives from the Louisiana Office of Community Development - Disaster Recovery Unit joined with local officials in Pineville today for a groundbreaking ceremony that kicked off the first of five projects to repair deficiencies in the Red River levee system.

OCD-DRU has awarded $15,450,957 in disaster recovery funding to Rapides Parish for a program to recertify five levees on the north and south banks of the Red River, allowing parish officials to access the federal Community Development Block Grant dollars needed to implement the projects.

The five levee projects and amounts are as follows:

  • $5,756,800 for the Pineville levee on the north bank;
  • $5,580,225 for the Vicksburg District levee on the south bank;
  • $1,808,744 for the Rapides levee on the north bank;
  • $1,230,900 for Spanish Bayou/Huffman Creek structures on the north bank; and
  • $1,074,288 for the Grant Parish levee on the north bank.

In December 2009, FEMA notified the Red River Atchafalaya and Bayou Bouef Levee District that it was decertifying the Red River levees because of sinkholes, sand boils, seepage and washout caused by excessive, sustained river levels in the wake of hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

As a result, the area protected by the levees now is classified as a special flood hazard zone, requiring structures with federally backed mortgages to carry flood insurance.

OCD-DRU Executive Director Pat Forbes said, "It is vital to recertify the Red River levees if recovery is to continue in the residential, business, agricultural and industrial sectors of Rapides Parish. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cannot fund this project, so CDBG disaster recovery money is the only financial resource available to meet this critical need."

Rapides Parish Police Jury President Oliver Overton said, "The Rapides Parish Police Jury and all the municipalities agreed to set aside all of their respective drainage projects in order to address the more important issue of the Red River levee certification, due to its economic impact on the parish as a whole."

For more than 75 years, the Red River levee system has allowed Rapides and Grant parish farmers, builders, developers, businesses, industry and homeowners to build within the natural flood zone of the river. Without the levees, commerce in this area would be changed forever.

The restoration project is designed as a mitigation plan to ensure that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers accredits the north and south banks of the Red River levees -- from Nantachie Lake to the Rapides and Avoyelles parish lines -- as meeting FEMA certification requirements.

The projects include, but are not limited to, acquisition of rights-of-way and environmental clearances, replacement of outfall pipes, construction of new sewer pump stations, construction of sand seepage berms, elevation raising, replacing flood gates, relining/repairing/replacing pipes, and repair/replacement of sluice gates.

The funding is part of more than $1 billion in disaster recovery Community Development Block Grant money received by the state from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for damages caused by hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

In total, OCD-DRU has allocated $16,362,354 in Gustav-Ike disaster recovery funding to Rapides Parish.

The Disaster Recovery Unit within the Office of Community Development is dedicated to helping Louisiana's citizens recover from hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. As the state's central point for hurricane recovery, the OCD-DRU manages the most extensive rebuilding effort in American history, working closely with local, state and federal partners to ensure that Louisiana recovers safer and stronger than before.