Friday, March 5, 2010

You Think Rapides Regional Didn't Know It Was Them the Whole Time?

Reading Bret McCormick's piece on Leveegate this morning, our first thought was why has Rapides Regional been quiet the whole time?  They had to know it was them?  They were going to hang the Pentecostals of Alexandria out?  Nice.
During a meeting of the Red River, Atchafalaya & Bayou Boeuf Levee District Board of Commissioners this week, Chris Brouillette, the district's executive director, said he didn't know the location of a 350-foot parking lot along Bayou Rapides that was cited by FEMA as being without the required freeboard along the levee.
The first parking lot that came to his mind was on Bayou Rapides Avenue across the street from The Pentecostals of Alexandria church grounds.
Jessie Lachney, a Marksville resident who is a former member of the levee board and was in attendance at Tuesday's meeting, knew that couldn't be correct and started digging.
Lachney said he was on the levee board when the sea walls were constructed on the church parking lot. When Rapides Avenue was being expanded, part of the levee was taken, causing the need for the sea wall construction.
At that time, Lachney said, the construction project was approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"I called Chris Brouillette (on Wednesday), and he said, 'Mr. Jessie, I don't know. FEMA won't let me know,'" Lachney said, referring to the parking lot in question.
Brouillette told Lachney that the Pentecostals' parking lot was the first one that came to his mind, but that there were several others that came to his mind later, including one at Rapides Regional Medical Center.
That's when Lachney sought out the city's Engineering Department, and he said he got confirmation from City Engineer Mike Wilkinson.
Why does Chris Brouillette still have a job at the Levee District?
"I don't have it in black and white," Brouillette said, adding that "the city was the one who was kind of in charge of" the certification process.
This is getting more and more interesting.  Who is it, the Levee District or Alexandria?  FEMA definitely thinks Alexandria is responsible.
City officials have said they've had trouble getting answers about the deficiencies from both FEMA and the Corps of Engineers.
FEMA officials continually have said that levee certification "is a Corps issue," and Susie Webb with FEMA's Region 6 public information office said the city of Alexandria is the one to contact about Bayou Rapides and Bayou Phillips deficiencies.
Bret McCormick treats us to some other interesting facts that will make Jacques blood boil.  We like reading Bret, but couldn't he have at least given us a nod for breaking the ordinance story?
In June 2007, the Levee District entered into a PAL agreement for Rapides Parish with FEMA that gave the district 24 months to make sure all of its levees were certified, which would then allow FEMA to accredit them.
The Alexandria City Council approved an ordinance on Sept. 25, 2007, for the city to enter into a contract with the Levee District and the Rapides Parish Police Jury "to obtain Bayou Rapides and Bayou Phillips levee certifications."
Here is today's example of Jacques lying and trying to blame others for his failures.
Roy said critics who are taking shots at the city for any deficiencies in the levees are "missing the boat on the city's responsibility, scope and role" with the levees. The mayor said the levees fall under the jurisdiction of the Levee District, but the city offered to "provide resources" for levee certification, including use of the city's Engineering Department to inspect the levees.
Because the levees within the city limits are not among the Mississippi River & Tributaries Project, the Corps would not provide inspection, which meant the Levee District would have had to hire a private engineering fund to perform the inspection at a cost of approximately $45,000 per mile.
"The city steps up to provide the engineering services it can, and the Corps says it's not enough," Roy said.
Jacques, if you think we here at Jacques Barack are done with our investigation, you are wrong.  You are lying again today.  You are about to get rain made.  Look for more breaking news on Leveegate from Jacques Barack on Monday.