NEW ORLEANS — Yesterday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell met with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Pete Gaynor to review the progress and priorities surrounding federal funding for the City’s many infrastructure priorities while sharing best practices for hurricane preparedness. All of this work and preparation comes while local, state and federal agencies are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had a productive conversation about what we’ve accomplished and what we will continue to accomplish. We appreciate FEMA’s partnership and support of the COVID-19 Meal Assistance Program, which will provide 1.8 million meals for New Orleanians experiencing the worst health and economic impacts of the pandemic. Hurricanes are NOT taking a day off because of COVID-19. We stand ready and prepared. We conducted the City Assisted Evacuation Plan exercise last Friday using many of the recommendations from FEMA for evacuation in a COVID-19 landscape.
The relationships we have with our local, regional, state, and federal partners are the most important way to ensure we’re prepared for hurricane season, for addressing our infrastructure issues, and doing all this while fighting COVID-19 at the same time.”said Mayor Cantrell.
“Responding to this year’s hurricane season will look a little different in a COVID-19 environment, but FEMA stands ready to support Louisiana if needed. It has been a great opportunity to visit with local officials and our key stakeholders while here in New Orleans to discuss these preparedness efforts. As this year marks the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, this visit also allowed us to see firsthand the tremendous progress and recovery that is occurring across the city since the devastating storm. It serves as a reminder that mitigation works and that we must continue our strong partnerships to reduce risk and better prepare the communities of Louisiana. Thank you to the Mayor and her team for the great work they do to keep the city of New Orleans safe.”said Administrator Gaynor.
Before the meeting, Mayor Cantrell and Administrator Gaynor toured the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans’ (SWBNO) Carrollton Plant, which is the site of several completed, ongoing and proposed projects. The tour was hosted by SWBNO Executive Director Ghassan Korban, General Superintendent Robert Turner, and Project Manager Chris Bergeron, who showcased completed projects such as emergency storage and a generator retrofit.
“The support and partnership we’ve received from FEMA over the years has been invaluable. Through the FEMA-funded Hazard Mitigation Program, we’ve been able to embark on a number of vital projects that have helped push this utility forward. With our crumbling infrastructure, one thing is abundantly clear, we can’t turn this ship alone. We thank Mayor Cantrell and Administrator Gaynor for recognizing the dire need to invest, not just in the Sewerage and Water Board, but in the health and safety of New Orleans.”said Executive Director Korban.
Mayor Cantrell and Administrator Gaynor were also joined by Tony Robinson, Region 6 Administrator, FEMA; Col. Terry Ebbert, Director, Homeland Security and Public Safety; Collin Arnold, Director, New Orleans Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness; Casey Tingle, Chief of Staff/Deputy Director, Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness; Joseph Threat, Director, Project Delivery Unit; and Christy Harowski, Chief of Staff, SWBNO.
After the meeting, Deputy CAO for Infrastructure Ramsey Green guided Administrator Gaynor and his team on a tour of the City’s $15.5 million Pontilly Neighborhood Stormwater Network, on the edge of Joseph M. Bartholomew Municipal Golf Course, which includes bioswales, rain gardens, and pervious surfacing. When complete, the project will store up to 8.9 million gallons of stormwater and reduce flooding as much as 14 inches during a 10-year rain event. Construction is 60 percent complete and will be wrapped up in Fall 2020. This project is part of the $150 million capital program coming from FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HGMP). They were guided by DPW Project Manager Meagan Williams and joined by Jerame Cramer, Environmental & Historic Preservation Program Lead, FEMA.
“We thank FEMA for continuing to keep federal infrastructure dollars flowing to New Orleans as we work to rebuild critical systems and stimulate the local economy. We currently have $300 million worth of projects in construction more on the horizon and we’re on pace to hit more than $500 million by the end of 2020.”said Deputy CAO Green.