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State seeks federal funds for flood modeling

BATON ROUGE — The state is seeking federal funds to more accurately model flood risks in its watersheds and compile the data into an online portal.

“Many legislators do not know about this project, and it is great news for constituents,” Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell and chairperson of the Lower Pearl River Task Force said Wednesday.

The State partnered with ARCADIS, a global engineering and consulting company, last year to examine the watershed projects to help prevent flooding.

Carly Foster, the ARCADIS project manager, presented a report to Hewitt’s task force assessing current practices and outlining the roadmap forward.

A steering committee made up of multiple state agencies is conducting the study, and it identified several common themes.

First, agencies need reliable, dynamic watershed models. Pat Forbes, executive director of the state’s office of community development, is seeking funding for the models through the federal Community Development Block Grant Program. 

Forbes said this year’s federal guidelines will likely focus on the 10 parishes that were most impacted in the 2016 floods.

Gov. John Bel Edwards has indicated that he wants Louisiana to be the first state to apply for the block grant when the guidelines are published, Forbes said.

Second, the committee expressed a need for more accessible data. Within the next six months, it will have an operative “Everything Flood Related Website and Data Portal,” as ARCADIS official Carly Foster put it.

Finally, Sen. Hewitt commended ARCADIS for starting with “low-hanging fruit,” such as removing refrigerators and washing machines from rivers.

By Joby Richard, LSU Manship School News Service

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