Parish President Layton Ricks and Mark Harrell (arbitration)

Parish President Layton Ricks (left) and Director of Homeland Security Mark Harrell

LIVINGSTON - Livingston Parish Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director Mark Harrell had a bit of good news, and a bit of bad news.

The good news was that his meeting with FEMA Region 6 regarding the most recent letter on the parish's disaster response was great and productive, unfortunately, parish officials' trip to Washington D.C. did not bear the same fruit.

The parish has been denied consideration for funding for inundated roads through arbitration with FEMA. According to parish attorney Chris Moody, the presentation from the witnesses and local officials to the judges was good, but in the end they cited a policy as the reason they denied Livingston Parish.

That policy, enacted in September of 2017, stated that FEMA would not cover inundated roads. The key to inundated roads is that they receive subsurface damage, that isn't visible and, as of September 2017 - FEMA doesn't cover that.

Harrell was upset by the policy, because he believes FEMA did not go through the proper procedures and that they should not have been able to make it retroactive.

According to Harrell, the parish's experts put it very well - you go to the doctor and your arm hurts, he says, and the doctor runs an x-ray, maybe even an MRI, and finds something under the skin and gets it fixed.

Harrell said that local experts and engineers had inspected hundreds of miles of inundated roads in the parish, and that damage either has occurred or will occur.

He went on to say that the parish will try to work through the congressional delegation to see if another avenue or agreement could be reached with FEMA.

Parish Councilman Garry 'Frog' Talbert (District 2) asked Moody if arbitration is denied, what else could be done.

"If it's denied, it's done, right?" Talbert asked.

"(Parish officials) could appeal," Moody explained, "but in my opinion it's done."

Harrell re-iterated that parish officials will wait to see what the congressional delegation could do, or what the parish's special counsel could come up with, before they let it die.

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