LIVINGSTON – Nearly 30 months after the worst flood in Livingston Parish history, a deadline looms for survivors.
The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) set an April 30 deadline on the remaining mobile housing units it provided to displaced homeowners after the August 2016 flood.
The move comes after an unprecedented number of extensions on deadlines the agency imposed in the wake of the flood.
“This was a record breaker,” said Mike Steele, public information officer for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. “FEMA has been very receptive to our plight after this, so we feel they’ve really been fair with us on this process.”
A total of 97 units -- 88 private, nine commercial -- remained in use throughout Livingston Parish as of Feb. 6, according to FEMA which had around 1,400 units in place within the first six months after the flood.
In East Baton Rouge Parish, 186 units -- 161 private, 25 commercial -- remained occupied, along with 41 in Ascension -- 38 private, three commercial. Eight units remained in use in Tangipahoa Parish.
Overall, FEMA provided mobile homes to 4,633 households across 16 parishes.
The total in Livingston Parish had dwindled to 223 by April 2018. Rental fees took effect in August 2018, based on the number of MHU bedrooms and the unit’s geographic locations.
The first household moved into a mobile home Aug. 24, 2016 -- less than two weeks after the presidential disaster declaration, according to FEMA.
Federal law mandates the end of the MHU program 18 months after the disaster declaration date.
“When you look at the whole thing, if you’ve had so many extensions on the program, you know for a fact that the state has fought very hard for us,” said Mark Harrell, director of the Livingston Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. “The number of situations they’ve given us has been unheard of.”
GOHSEP is working with nonprofit organizations that have reached out to the remaining MHU occupants.
“A lot of the families who left have very difficult situations,” Steele said. “A number of them have had property handed down over the years, or challenges on paperwork, or zoning issues having to be resolved in certain area, but again, FEMA has been very sympathetic in that situation.”