Seniors press BREC for answers on flood repairs

Seniors at BREC Rec Center (Source: WAFB)
Seniors at BREC Rec Center (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Senior citizens who have become the backbone of several big programs in Baton Rouge are calling the Recreation and Park Commission for East Baton Rouge Parish (BREC) on the carpet.

The recreation centers they use have been closed for six months for repairs from the August flood.

Seniors packed the Parklawn Recreation Center to give their two cents worth of ideas and opinions on ten BREC-run properties that remain closed.

"BREC has a habit of being slow at everything they do," one man said. "I know what I am paying to BREC in taxes," a woman added.

Since the flood, seniors who participate in knitting, pottery, bridge and other BREC-sponsored programs have been meeting at other locations across the parish. They said all traveling got old, quick.

"The other centers are not convenient and a lot of people are not coming to them anymore because it's inconvenient for them," one man said.

That includes Joyce Williams, who said she has been playing bridge at the Sharp Road location for over a decade.

"I have to get out and mingle," Williams said.

But since the rec center flooded in August, Williams said she and her friends have made other plans.

"A friend in the neighborhood lets us squeeze in on Fridays and play four tables. She couldn't have five unless we moved outside," Williams explained.

Terry Meliet said she and her mother have been gathering at Webb Park to make pottery. But she said it is difficult to work there.

"It's a nice place but like we were all saying, it's not set up, our supplies are not easy," Meliet said.

BREC Director of Communications Cheryl Michelet said the department has been working with FEMA and a consulting firm since the flood.

"If we go out right now and repaired buildings ourselves, what we've learned is that we jeopardize the ability to get funding from FEMA," Michelet said.

Michelet added while BREC follows FEMA's guidelines, the organization has worked hard to make sure its programs continue.

"We are doubling up in some facilities where we need to. We are also asking outside groups, can we use your buildings," Michelet said.

As for the repairs, Michelet said the facilities that were already under construction will be repaired first, followed by those that are ready for bid. She said the Sharp location will likely come after. Repairs to properties could go into next year. BREC is asking patrons to be patient.

"I flooded, too and I dealt with FEMA," Michelet said.

"We'll see," Williams said.

The consulting firm for BREC said the city park system is looking at $17 million in flood repairs.

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