Much discussed at two Police Jury meetings

By Cyndi Sellers

The Cameron Parish Police Jury continued to work on hurricane recovery at its two monthly meetings Friday, Feb. 5. They authorized a temporary, 18-month waiver of restrictions on accessory buildings in a flood hazard zone. This move will allow people living in campers on their property or people working on repairing their home to add an accessory building for storage until Feb. 27, 2022. Until now such accessory buildings were not allowed in the flood zone.

Interim Parish Assessor Scott Lavergne said a 2013 Attorney General opinion allowed RVs to be homesteaded in Cameron Parish. The Assessor’s office has been using this opinion for tax purposes ever since. The Parish will bring this to FEMA’s attention.

Another action allows construction permit applicants to operate a business on a temporary, six-month, basis, during construction. A similar authorization was given to businesses after Hurricane Rita, allowing them to operate in temporary quarters while their permanent structure was being built. The action is intended to help local residents as well as businesses, since residents need the services being offered, such as groceries.

Stationary food trucks will continue to be allowed in all parts of the parish except Big Lake, Grand Lake and Sweetlake for another six months. Early discussion called for a limit of five permits, but there are already four in the Cameron area and other jurors wanted the option of having trucks in their areas, so no limit was imposed. Holly Beach already has a summer food truck program, which is not affected by the current measure.

The Parish is working to establish a Long Term Recovery Group to help local businesses recover. The group would include representatives of government and members of the public. The object would be to collect donations and provide grants to small businesses through the Cameron Lions Club, a 501c3 non-profit organization. The grants would be in the form of reimbursement for funds already expended by the business owner. Parish Treasurer Kara Bonsall said the Parish may be able to donate lawsuit proceeds to the fund if such a donation is legal.

Reports that FEMA is planning a mobile home park in Cameron Parish are premature. Several jurors had received phone calls about FEMA contractors identifying sites for possible mobile home parks, but Bonsall said this is only a last resort possibility. FEMA still intends to use available private park spaces, but they need to investigate every possibility and have a plan in place if they run out of room, and local people have no other place to go. Lee Faulk and Sonny McGee made clear they want to be notified before anything changes. McGee said any FEMA mobile home park would have to get a permit from the parish first.

Debris Removal and Dump Sites

Debris removal is continuing throughout the parish. Some types of debris, such as tires and white goods, are left behind by one truck, to be picked up by another truck later. The tire issue will have to be settled by LA DEQ, which did not have a plan in place to dispose of them, said Parish Administrator Katie Armentor. FEMA payment for debris removal ends Feb. 28, but the Parish has applied for a six-month extension.

Most dump sites remain closed, partly because debris removal is ongoing. Disposal of any storm debris brought to a parish dump costs the parish full price for disposal. The Parish pays only 25 percent of the cost for debris removal, maybe 10 percent if Cameron Parish gets approval for the 90/10 FEMA reimbursement rate. Also, the Sweetlake dump is too small to take storm debris.

Private Property Debris Removal (PPDR) by FEMA has not yet been approved, but the Parish will begin taking names and addresses of those who need homes demolished. Many big downed trees need removal, too. Once the Parish has an estimate of the need, it can apply for PPDR, Armentor said. Homeowners should be aware that any insurance coverage for demolition will be claimed by FEMA, no double-dipping allowed.

Jurors approved a one-year extension of the Waste Management garbage pick-up contract. A new house count has been completed, totaling 3400 households including 497 RVs. The Parish will pay $12.90 per household, up from $12.50. it is the first increase in five years. There was discussion about whether RV parks are residences or businesses.

To read the rest of this story, please see page seven of the print edition of The Cameron Parish Pilot.