The meeting of the Commissioners Court on Tuesday was primarily an update on the recovery from Hurricane Laura. Emergency Management Coordinator Joel Ardoin reported the picking up of debris from the storm has started across the county.
Estimates are that Laura caused 300,000 cubic yards of debris in the county. Ardoin said the contractor Ashbritt has collected 127,693 cubic yards to this point averaging almost 16,000 cubic yards a day.
Crews started on Monday eliminating trees that had hanging limbs or were leaning over roads. This work will continue according to Ardoin to improve the safety for the public.
Efforts are still being made to meet the FEMA determined thresholds for federal Public Assistance and Individual Assistance. Ardion indicated the damage from Laura is determined to be $57 million which exceeds the FEMA threshold of $38.4 million, but that figure has not been validated yet by the federal government.
Ardoin had less promising news for Individual Assistance. Early reports showed roughly 600 homes suffering severe damage or being destroyed during the hurricane. FEMA only validated 330 homes which is well short of the 800 homes destroyed needed to reach the federal threshold.
Maintenance Director Kurt Guidry is working on assessing the county buildings that were damaged during Laura. Air samplings are complete in the buildings and the cleanup is ongoing. The Orange County Courthouse building remains closed to the public as of Tuesday, September 15.
The Commissioners Court approved extending the Disaster Declaration concerning Hurricane Laura. The extension will run through October 31, but can be rescinded earlier if conditions warrant it.
Ardoin also updated the Court on the COVID pandemic. There are currently 387 active cases of the Coronavirus in Orange County which is down over 30 from last week. The number of fatalities in the county has been raised to 33 individuals. The total number of individuals who have tested positive has reached 1,941 since the pandemic began.
-Dan Perrine, KOGT-