City eligible for debris payment, Solid Waste exec says

Eunice will be eligible for reimbursement from the St. Landry Parish Solid Waste Disposal District of debris-removal costs not covered by federal and state payments.

Solid Waste District Executive Director Katry Martin said Wednesday that Eunice’s costs would be covered provided the required documentation is submitted and approved by FEMA.

“FEMA is picky. Mayor Morris has contacted me several times for advice and suggestions. Of course Eunice will be eligible if the district assists in reimbursement and if the city’s paperwork is in order,” Martin said.

Why Eunice is not part of the parish debris-removal project and whether it would be eligible for reimbursement occupied a considerable portion of Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

Parish President Don Menard was on hand “to clear the air” regarding the parish program and Eunice’s absence from it.

He said Martin approached him prior to Hurricane Gustav about taking the coordinating role because of Martin’s previous hurricane clean-up experience. Menard accepted.

As outlined, FEMA will pay 75 percent, the state is saying it will pay 12.5 percent and Solid Waste will pick up the other 12.5 percent.

At about $10 a cubic yard for disposal and burning, the cost adds up fast.

Parish-wide, Martin said Wednesday, the estimated volume is 400,000 yards.

Eunice moved 149 trucks of debris Tuesday, Morris said. The trucks vary in size. Using an average of 13 yards per truck, the approximate cost was $19,000.

Those kind of numbers are why FEMA is exremely finicky about documentation and procedure.

“Mayor Morris wanted to do his own. That’s his prerogative and his business,” Menard said.

Morris said he has hired the same monitoring firm that the parish is using, as part of its piggyback on a St. John the Parish contract.

The mayor said the city has not yet hired a removal contractor, but that he thinks he can get a better price than the parish has.

The mayor said he opted out of the parish deal because he felt the city could get removal started sooner, which it did.

Menard and Parish Administrator Jessie Bellard confirmed the parish had six crews on the ground as of Tuesday, and hoped to soon increase to 25.

Meanwhile, a great bit of Eunice debris has been collected, though a slow- down will be seen now that the period close monitoring is beginning.

Alderwoman Chawana Fontenot lamented the mayor had not discussed the options with her, despite her council experience with damage from two hurricanes.

Given the history between the two, that comes as no surprise to anyone.

“We don’t know if we’re going to get reimbursed for the past week of tremendous work by city employees,” she said.

Morris disputed that assertion, saying the city’s going by the book in removing the debris.

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