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|Officials begin discussion of costs, reimbursement for flood|
Local government representatives met with federal and state officials Tuesday to discuss the financial costs of the 2011 Mississippi River flood and how to proceed with debris removal and recovery work in the weeks ahead.
Wanda Nicholson, Public Assistance Coordinator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), moderated a meeting held the Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office Training Center on Hwy. 15 Tuesday morning.
She was joined by a dozen FEMA officials and representatives of the Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP).
Discussions centered on the procedures to follow in obtaining reimbursement for flood-related costs.
Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland, along with several town employees and its engineering firm, were among the attendees at Tuesday's meeting.
Copeland said recently the town suffered damage to its riverfront and costs in excess of $3 million in protecting the convention center and three businesses -- Comfort Suites, Riverpark Medical Center and Promise Hospital. He's hoping "to get back to normal as quickly as possible."
He said work to clean up the riverfront has begun.
"We are trying to access our damage, particularly our infrastructure," he said. "Our objective is to get all businesses into a position to reopen by the end of this week."
He said work to restore electricity at the RV park is underway.
"The problem we have now is health and safety," he said. "We have only one lane of traffic that can be utilized because of the Hesco boxes." Those boxes, which are filled with sand, were used to protected buildings on the riverfront from flood waters.
He said a number of Hesco boxes were removed to provide entrance and exit lanes for the riverfront businesses.
Before the bulk of the boxes can be removed, however, FEMA must provide and approve procedures on how those boxes can be removed through the bidding process.
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