Think it's taking a long time to raise New Jersey homes after 2012's Hurricane Sandy? Check out Louisiana: according to an Eyewitness News report from local station WWL-TV (Channel 4), Federal authorities are starting to get impatient about mitigation money awarded in 2008 — so impatient, they're threatening to take the funding back (see: "Millions unspent for lifting Orleans' flood-prone homes," by David Hammer).
The FEMA Severe Repetitive Loss program has awarded $118 million to Louisiana localities to elevate houses — aid that's not tied to any particular storm, but that targets houses that flood over and over again.
"In Jefferson Parish, the program has worked like a charm, with $62 million awarded to raise 326 homes in the last six years," the station reports. "All of the jobs have been completed and there's even $14 million left over, said parish flood plain manager Michelle Gonzales. The picture isn't nearly as nice in New Orleans, where, following hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike, about 1,500 homes were on the federal list, but only 28 were approved for $6.5 million in grants."
Now, FEMA officials are putting pressure on local governments to get moving. "FEMA granted an extension until August 29, 2015, for Louisiana to use hazard mitigation funds, but demanded that the state close out 120 projects and show completed plans to spend at least $200 million by that time," the station reports.