It was a tough pill to swallow when the parish discovered they would be financially liable for a service for which they believed they'd receive help.
But, according to parish officials, the parish will save money on the requirement.
FEMA believed that Livingston Parish had 4,000 homes which should have been inspected after the Great Flood of 2016, but were not. The parish did diligence on the list, finding some duplicate addresses, but in the end roughly 3,300 properties still needed inspections for substantial damage.
Substantial damage is any damage to a structure, not land, from a natural disaster wherein 50% or more of the value of the property would be required in repairs.
According to parish ordinance, any property which suffered substantial damage would be required to mitigate which, in most cases, meant elevation to above the Base Flood Elevation.
Once the edict came from FEMA, the parish believed that they would receive help from the governmental entity to do those inspections. According to the Livingston Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Mark Harrell, the parish did not learn that they would be on the hook for the inspections until after the first of the year.
Harrell approached the council asking for approval to allow Parish President Layton Ricks to sign any contract that Harrell brought to him for substantial damage inspections, but had no contracts or proposals to show the council at that time. When asked, Harrell said the cost of the project would be between $300,000 and $400,000 - or, roughly, $100 per home.
After that meeting, a contractor reached out to parish representatives stating that they could not find any requests for proposals or quotations, either online or in print. They then submitted a quote at just under $100 per home for substantial damage inspections.
Following the unofficial quote submission, the parish received word from Fire Marshal Butch Browning's office, as well as FEMA, that they would provide assistance "free of charge" for Livingston Parish's substantial damage inspections.
Harrell announced the news to the council Thursday night, which will save the parish money which would have had to have been moved by budgetary amendment.
Browning's office factors in as part of the parish's substantial damage inspection options moving forward in a post disaster scenario. The parish council will host a public hearing in March to discuss Harrell's new post-disaster response ordinance, which he has discussed with FEMA.