WASHINGTON, DC (WLOX) - U.S. Senator Thad Cochran on Thursday announced final approval for eight federal grants worth more than $18.1 million to support Mississippi Gulf Coast recovery projects associated with Hurricane Katrina. The work had stalled because a federal disaster relief fund ran low on money.
Cochran said final approval of the grants was issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in consultation with congressional appropriations panels. The grant funding will be obligated to projects in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties.
"These grants are being issued because Congress finally acted to approve the emergency funding needed by FEMA to meet immediate disaster needs around the country and to allow Katrina-related recovery projects to move forward," Cochran said. "Almost five years after Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi continues its work to recover from the wreckage caused by the 2005 hurricane season. The obligation of these FEMA monies represents our intent to carry on with recovery work on the Gulf Coast."
Cochran helped craft the FY2010 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill (PL.111-212) that was signed into law on July 29. The measure provided FEMA with $5.1 billion to replenish its Disaster Relief Fund.
While Congress debated the supplemental bill, the fund had less than $900 million available to respond to disasters and FEMA carried more than $1.76 billion in arrears for projects already approved in designated federal disaster areas—including more than $131 million in Mississippi.
FEMA has given final approval to more than $18.1 million for these approved, but unfunded projects on the Mississippi Gulf Coast:
City of Biloxi -- $1,168,270.34 to support site work and ancillary requirements (roads, parking and utilities) related to the relocation of city facilities—Hubert Mullins Senior Citizen Center, Point Cadet Boxing Club, Point Cadet Hangar and O'Hanlan Recreational Center—damaged by storm surge and winds during Hurricane Katrina.
City of Biloxi -- $3,384,889.18 to supplement work by the city to repair the 73 lift stations damaged during Hurricane Katrina, including elevating electrical components for 57 of these damaged lift stations. In addition to repair costs, the grant will support surveying and geotechnical services, engineering and design costs.
City of Biloxi -- $2,416,993.93 to support engineering surveys, soil investigations and other requirements needed for design and construction phases of sewer line projects in 14 areas of the city where the systems sustained Hurricane Katrina damage.
Catholic Charities Housing Association of Biloxi -- $4,165,365.08 to support site work and ancillary requirements (roads, parking and utilities) related to the permanent relocation of Santa Maria de la Mer, a 13-story, 209-unit, low-income apartment for seniors, out of the flood zone.
Catholic Charities Housing Association of Biloxi -- $2,003,222.00 to accommodate construction plan changes related to the relocation of Santa Maria de la Mer, including the addition of 11,339 square feet of space and revisions required to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and codes previously adopted by the city of Biloxi. Total federal funding for this project is estimated to be $23.7 million.
Harrison County -- $2,287,103.21 to support site work and ancillary requirements (roads, parking and utilities) related to the permanent relocation of the county's library facility in Gulfport, which will be called the Harrison County (Orange Grove) Library after it is relocated out of the flood zone.
Jackson County School District – $1,481,100.70 to support site work and ancillary requirements (roads, parking and utilities) related to the permanent relocation of St. Martin Upper Elementary School and St. Martin Middle School to a new site in Ocean Springs.
Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks -- $1,252,849.62 to support the elevation of public buildings at the Buccaneer State Park in order to comply with floodplain and ADA requirements.