Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Louisiana Recovery Authority Press Release


December 31, 2008


Christina Stephens
Louisiana Recovery Authority

Road Home Program Surpasses $500 million in Elevation Payouts in 2008

State Hazard Mitigation Grant Program holding one-on-one appointments with homeowners to begin second phase of elevation awards

BATON ROUGE, La. - The state of Louisiana has paid homeowners more than $543 million in federal funds through the Road Home program for home elevations after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, with the vast majority - almost $500 million -- coming since program re-launched this spring with a simplified award process.

So far, the Road Home has paid $543,608,113 in elevation funds to 18,914 homeowners through the program. Additionally, more than 4,400 applicants have been moved to closing.

"The half billion of elevation funds homeowners received this year will go a long way to ensuring safer rebuilding across Louisiana. The success of this elevation program hinges on our decision to simplify the award process and give homeowners flat award amounts," said Paul Rainwater, executive director of Louisiana Recovery Authority. "We have much to do in 2009, including working through thousands of sometimes complicated Road Home cases, paying out the remaining program elevation checks, pushing forward with elevations funded with hazard mitigation dollars and transitioning the Road Home program as the state's contract with ICF ends."

Louisiana put its elevation program on hold in April 2007 - after disbursing around $47.9 million to 2,000 homeowners - because of concerns over a potential shortfall in the Road Home budget. In late February 2008, the state announced it was reactivating the elevation program and notifying homeowners who qualified for elevation awards by letter.

To simplify and speed the process, rather than each homeowner having an individual elevation grant calculation, Louisiana altered the program so homeowners receive standard elevation amounts through the Road Home program. The Road Home Elevation Incentive provides up to $30,000 for site built homes and $20,000 for mobile homes to elevate to meet the current Advisory Base Flood Elevation or Base Flood Elevation levels. Total compensation through the Road Home, including the elevation award, is still capped at $150,000 per applicant.

In addition to the Road Home program, the state has started outreach to homeowners through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), with the first checks currently being processed. In total, the new state HMGP staff has reached out to 1,784 applicants and is actively working 600 project files. In recent weeks, targeted outreach sessions have resulted in 445 homeowner appointments. Because of the level of documentation required by federal HMGP regulations, the state is conducting one-on-one outreach with applicants to gather documents and check elevation progress.

Louisiana's $750 million elevation program is the largest HMGP elevation program ever run. Coupled with the $1 billion in CDBG elevations the state is paying through the Road Home, Louisiana is undertaking the largest elevation effort in American history.

State HMGP awards are separate from the Road Home Program and funds may exceed the $150,000 cap from the Road Home. Therefore, eligible homeowners can receive up to an additional $30,000 from the HMGP program for elevation or pilot reconstruction activities.

If you have questions about the Road Home Elevation Incentive call 877-234-1513 (Road Home Elevation Technical Assistance Hot Line). Questions about the State HMGP program should be directed to 877-744-7235. TTY users call 711 relay or 1-800-846-5277.


Monday, December 22, 2008

EMail Humor....

Due to the current financial crisis facing the world at the moment,the light at the end of the tunnel will be switched off to save on electricity costs, until further notice.

Sincerely yours,



Sunday, December 21, 2008

Daddy Daughter Time

Cassie remembers minute details of events that I would never even think about. Sometimes it is easier to focus on things as a youngster than it is as an adult. Unfortunately, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to take certain things for granted. Just recently, I asked my students to write a paper on who or what they are thankful for. On occasion I think it is important to try my own assignments, so here goes.
Ever since we moved in to our current house, I have gone to a nearby diner and picked up breakfast for the 2 or 3 of us. This is almost a weekly occurrence. In that time, I’ve come to know most of the staff at least by sight and a few by name. As she has grown Cassie has learned of this diner. She knows that if she wants breakfast on the weekend that this establishment is always a possibility.
Periodically, I try to give Elizabeth a break on the weekends. She does so much more than I do around the house normally, so on occasion I take our daughter, Cassie, to breakfast. This allows Elizabeth to stretch out or sleep in a bit while we are gone. Cassie has gotten to the age where this is really not that difficult. Not to mention that everyone seems to benefit.
Recently, Cassie has started asking to go to this restaurant with me, but without Elizabeth, more and more frequently. She looks forward to this as one of the highlights of her week. As many of you might agree the economic downturn has made employment more tenuous, even for schoolteachers such as myself. As the work situation has deteriorated, I’ve had to focus on the other parts of my life a bit more.
Recently Cassie and I were at the diner in question. We were sharing crayons and drawing in a coloring book as we waited for our breakfast. By the way, Cassie appears to stay in the lines better than I do. We had already said our hellos to various wait staff and were just talking about the nothings that pass as normal conversation in families with small children. As we sat there, I drinking my coffee, Cassie her apple juice, she looks under the table. I thought maybe a crayon had hit the floor. She looked up quizzically, and said: ‘Daddy there is gum under the table’. Thankfully, I didn’t think about this observation very long, I simply said: They are dirty don’t touch them. There are things you do not think about going through life, Gum under tables fits in that category.
Every so often I go to sporting events, like Heat games or Dolphin games. These events are much more glamorous. In the long run however, weekend breakfast with my daughter is a much better event. I’m a middle-aged dad there are worse things. I’ve often wondered how to tell grownups from children, maybe I’ve stumbled upon one of the indicators.
I’m very lucky to have a wonderful wife and daughter. Elizabeth is able to keep me together enough to get me where I need to be. Without her I would probably lose my head. She handles many of the household responsibilities that I wouldn’t know how to do at all. She also takes care of Cassie much of time. Because of this, I feel she needs a bit of down time on occasion during the weekend. Not to mention, she allows me to disappear for sporting events periodically.

Don’t tell Elizabeth, but I kind of like those weekend meals as much as my daughter. As we left, Cassie told me to finish my breakfast.