LIVINGSTON – The Livingston Parish Council, after 15 minutes behind closed doors, authorized Parish President Layton Ricks to hire an attorney to seek arbitration against the Federal Emergency Management Agency for payment to repair roads damaged through inundation in the August 2016 flood.
The council approved the measure on an 8-0 vote. Councilman John Wascom was absent.
The litigation stems from FEMA’s multiple rejections to parish requests for more than 300 miles of road. Some roads were inundated for up to a week or longer during the Great Flood.
Repairs could cost the parish taxpayers upwards of $120 million or more, Ricks said.
“The bottom line is that while we were fortunate to have Congressman Garret Graves and others in the state delegation get arbitration approved, we still have denials on FEMA for these road repairs,” he said. “To accept a denial is unacceptable when it’s something taxpayers didn’t cause.”
The arbitration process would bring together representatives of the parish and FEMA, along with a mediator from the Civilian Contractors’ Board of Appeal, a Washington D.C. professional group.
The parish must forward documentation to the CCBA, which will hear the arguments from both parties in the dispute.
Livingston Parish Government must now produce and submit documents to the Civilian Contractor’s Board of Appeal. The parish will have approximately 49 days to gather evidence for the trial
The parish could receive the entire amount to fix the roads, a portion of the funds or possibly no money whatsoever, along with Mark Harrell, director of the Livingston Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
The road inundation stems from the August 2016 flood, when more than 300 miles of parish roads remained underway for more than a week, which damaged the underlying surface of the roads.
The arbitration process came into play last year as part of a flood relief package Congress approved in 2018. The process had been in place after Hurricane Katrina, but Congress halted it.
Inundation significantly weakens the strength of the base and sub-base on a road, according to specifications from the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation.