By David Jacobs | The Center Square
The federal government has granted Louisiana a $1.2 billion line of credit for flood mitigation, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing the funding to support the flood mitigation action plan that HUD approved in February.
“We are prepared to begin spending these long-awaited funds on programs and projects that address some of our state’s most immediate flood mitigation priorities, as well as provide us the tools we need for a more resilient future,” Edwards said in a prepared statement.
At least half of the $1.2 billion must be spent to benefit the 10 parishes HUD says were most affected by severe flooding in 2016. In its plan, the state identified 46 additional parishes that suffered serious floods that can benefit from the money.
The plan does not include a list of specific projects. Instead, it lays out the state’s approach to how the money will be used, following the goals of the Louisiana Watershed Initiative, which state officials established to promote regional floodplain management across jurisdictional lines.
The LWI has recognized eight watershed regions and is working alongside corresponding regional steering committees to guide flood mitigation decisions and investments, officials say. A “watershed” is an area of land that drains all of its streams and rainfall to a common outlet, such as a reservoir outflow, the mouth of a bay, or a point along a stream’s channel.
The first $100 million will be spent on projects that officials say will have an immediate impact, no significant downsides, and are ready to be implemented. The state and its watershed regions plan to select and award funding for these projects this winter.
State officials also have launched watershed modeling efforts and are working with local and regional partners to develop flood risk reduction strategies specific to each of the state’s watershed regions, according to the governor’s office.