DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - FEMA is helping one of the cities that flooded in August of 2016 in a first of its kind program.
Denham Springs is taking advantage of the program to try to tap into some national funds they may not be aware of to help pay for the city's future.
Denham Springs took one of the hardest hits during the August flooding, with many homes and 80 percent of the businesses taking on water. Because of the flooding, Denham Springs qualifies for FEMA's National Disaster Recovery Framework.
That means FEMA provides to Denham some of their experts, who are familiar with how the system works. The program does not cost Denham anything, and one local person, Jeanette Clark, is dedicated to coordinating the project.
The first meeting is set for Thursday, June 15. The goal of that meeting is to get the people's feedback on what Denham Springs needs long-term.
"What businesses are missing? What businesses don't work? There's nothing for kids to do in Denham Springs. You can't go bring your kid bowling. There are no activities in Denham Springs for kids," said Clark, who is the community recovery coordinator for Denham Springs.
"One of the ideas we came up with years ago was a park that would have access to the Amite River," said Denham Springs Mayor Gerard Landry.
Mayor Landry says he and local officials do not know what national agencies can help fund programs like that, but the National Park Service has already paid a visit to Denham Springs and suggested adding a boat launch, trail, canoes, and kayaks.
"With all the different uses for that one park, there's different government agencies we can go to to secure funding, pool all that money, and in the end, have a park," said Mayor Landry.
But after reaching out to people in Denham Springs on Facebook, many responded with wanting help fixing the city's roadways, coming up with a plan for all the homes abandoned and left vacant after the flood, and fixing drainage issues in the city.
"We are working with FEMA to secure some gr ants to study and what we can do to improve drainage," said Mayor Landry.
The city wants to hear from you and has already been listening to some 100 people.
There will be three meetings so the public can give their input. The main one will be in June. In July, they hope to try to finalize their projects. On the one year anniversary of the flood, they will finalize their projects and move towards getting funding.
The meetings are scheduled as follows:
- June 15 - Denham Springs Junior High, 4 p.m. - 8 p.m.
- July 13 - Denham Springs Junior High
- August 12 - TBA
The group, called Denham Strong, wants to hear from you. You can visit their website at Denhamstrong.com, or visit their Facebook page.