BOSSIER PARISH POLICE JURY - Bossier Parish Engineer Butch Ford had some good news Wednesday for parish residents hoping for buy-outs of homes damaged when catastrophic floods hit the area earlier this year.
"Victims of the 2016 flood can apply for buyout money and we're currently contacting them to see if they're still interested," Ford told members of the parish police jury. "That's great news because money is available quicker."
Ford said more money is available for victims of this year's flooding because not all the buyout funds were distributed following the 2009 floods. Ten homeowners applied for buyout in 2009 but only two took the money, he explained. That added another $450,000 to the total available for this year.
While the state of Louisiana believes the turnaround for application, approval and buyout will be quick, Ford said the process will still take some time.
"The quickest we will buy homes is next year," he said. "We have everything ready to go to FEMA...six to eight homeowners can be bought out more quickly than we thought. We're working as hard as we can to make it happen."
Homeowners in flooded areas and those who suffered damage received more good news Wednesday from parish assessor Bobby Edmiston. Property tax assessments will be lowered by half for homes located in flood zones, and those damaged by water will be lowered by 75 percent "...until we start getting sales," Edmiston said.
Ford said parish officials are still meeting with FEMA to discuss damages from this year's flooding. In addition to roads, between 20 and 25 bridge and drainage locations need repair and FEMA reimbursement is critical, he told the jury.
"We've been fighting for every dollar we can. We're hoping to get our gravel roads repaired before winter sets in but we still have some that are closed," he said. "Our consultant came in with $1.6 million needed for repairs; FEMA has given us $270,000."
Ford told jury members the parish sewer system is already headed north along U.S. Hwy. 3 past Cash Point.
"Everything is moving along fine," he reported. "We are receiving many calls from people seeking service."