11 years in the making: Charity Hospital cleanup begins

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – More than 11 years after Hurricane Katrina struck and the old Charity Hospital closed its doors for good, cleanup work in the historic, massive downtown building has begun.

Two local companies got the contracts to clean out the former Charity Hospital building and the Lapeyre-Miltenberger Building.

The contract for the Charity Hospital project went to Zimmer Eschette Service II, LLC, and the contract for the L & M Building clean-out went to Insul-tech Insulation Technologies, Inc.

The clean-out of the L & M Building ix expected to start around Jan. 16.

Dumpsters sit outside the old Charity Hospital as cleanup begins.

Dumpsters sit outside the old Charity Hospital as cleanup begins.

The Charity Hospital cleanup project will take about six months and cost roughly $6.4 million, according to LSU Health Sciences Center, which is overseeing the project.

The L&M Building cleanup will take three months and cost $487,000.

FEMA is funding both projects.

Charity Hospital has been a sore spot for many in New Orleans’ story of Katrina recovery. Charity Hospital was closed in the days and weeks following Katrina, and it never reopened. A documentary about Charity Hospital post-Katrina, “Big Charity,” received widespread attention.

The new, $1.1 billion University Medical Center that replaced Charity Hospital opened in August 2015.

The cleanup projects involve removing non-fixed equipment and materials from the buildings.

Asbestos, mold, chemicals and other hazardous materials will have to be dealt with before the properties can be considered for redevelopment.

“The buildings will not be safe for immediate occupancy, but they will be ready for the re-purposing process to begin,” officials with LSU Health Sciences said.