Beissinger: Take politics out of $1.2 BILLION in Flood Mitigation from HUD

Ryan Beissinger, Candidate for District 88

The Louisiana Watershed Initiative is Governor John Bel Edwards brainchild, pitched as the way to depoliticize floodplain management decisions and divvy up $1.2 billion in federal funding.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) made this funding available due to the devastation visited upon Louisiana by two major floods, in March and August of 2016.

Here in Ascension we caught the worst of August 2016’s floodwaters along with East Baton Rouge and Livingston.  Like so many of our friends and neighbors, our property was inundated…

Kendall and Ryan Beissinger during those fateful days in August 2016

We were spared the worst because our home is elevated, but so many of our friends and neighbors were not so lucky.

Still, this is a personal issue for Kendall and me; the one-time federal funding is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Ascension Parish.  Ensuring that we receive fair treatment will be a priority as your legislative representative.  It has not always been the case for Ascension and the fact that five separate state agencies are included is cause for concern.

  • Office of Community Development (OCD)
  • Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA)
  • Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP)
  • Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD)
  • Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (DWF)

Easier said than done, keeping the politics out of the ultimate decisions-making; i.e. where those funds are going to be allocated.

According to recent media report the $1.2 billion, without defining any specific project, will be allocated:

  • Local and Regional Projects and Programs – $571 million
  • State Projects and Programs – $328 million
  • Non-Federal Cost Share Assistance – $97 million
  • Watershed Monitoring, Mapping and Modeling – $146 million
  • Administrative Costs – $49 million
  • Watershed Policy, Planning and Local Capacity Assistance – $24 million

East Ascension has been designated part of Region 7, along with a dozen other parishes, ignoring that most are not within the Amite River Basin where August’s flooding was most severe.  It makes little sense considering the buzzwords for participation are “regional solutions.”  Hopefully, all those uncertainties will be resolved in a timely manner.

We share the basin with Livingston and EBR, comprising three-tenths of the ten parishes where half of the federal funds must be allocated.

It is imperative that we band together, focusing on projects that reduce flood risk for each.  The same can be said about Ascension’s non-existent relationships with other neighboring parishes; Iberville and St. James especially.

Ascension is unique in that we have spent millions (approaching nine figures) on flood protection over the decades; Marvin Braud and Henderson Bayou pumping stations most prominently.  We must accept that certain of our neighbors believe our improvements have worsened their situation.  We must come to some reasonable understanding with those neighboring parishes if we have any hope of drawing down a fair share of the federal dollars.

As your legislative representative I will begin building those cooperative relationships for the betterment of us all.  Certain of Ascension’s legislative delegation, two state senators (Districts 2 and 18) and two representatives (Districts 58 and 81), serve multiple parishes.  I will work with them to forge partnerships with neighboring parishes to maximize our collective effort to mutual benefit.

There is strength in numbers; and, in this case, the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.

Likewise, real partnership with Ascension Parish Government is key to our success.  Too often in the past, cooperation between state and local agencies has been lacking.  That must change.

On October 12 vote for that change,

Vote Ryan Beissinger for District 88 House of Representatives