One year later: A look back at the recovery of St. Charles Parish

Hurricane Ida slammed St. Charles Parish on Aug. 29 of 2021. A little over a year later, things have improved from an immediate fallout that saw residents stranded and without electricity, many lacking food and supplies and numerous school and business closures – but there is still work to be done and challenges that must be met.

Currently, the repair and rebuilding of damaged private property is perhaps the No. 1 challenge faced by St. Charles as a whole, as many are still fighting with insurance companies and perhaps struggling to make ends meet. This comes even a year later as the threat of the 2022 hurricane season has remained a dark cloud over all proceedings.

“It’s the greatest challenge we face,” said Jason Tastet, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness for St. Charles Parish. “As has been reported, the difficulties that individuals face with some private insurers going bankrupt has left many people unable to repair or completely repair their home. These policies have been turned over to the state bailout program.”

Tastet said there are over 500 travel trailers and mobile housing units in St. Charles Parish.

“These residents are repairing their homes or can not fix their home and are waiting on other options,” Tastet said.

He noted an option for residents is to apply to Restore Louisiana at www.restore.la.gov, which can provide aid to those in need.

“It’s a slow process, but there is money in the fund to assist hurricane victims,” said Tastet.

These housing issues also extend to apartment complexes. Some apartment owners are having issues collecting on their insurance policies, which Tastet said leaves the parish with less available housing options.”

On the whole, however, the situation is night and day on a parish-wide level. The damage inflicted by Ida left many to ponder their future and the future of St. Charles Parish, as the storm brought an unprecedented impact upon the area.

“The recovery efforts over the past 13 months have been tremendous,” Tastet said. “We have completed a lot of projects even with the supply chain issues. There have been a lot of repairs made to public facilities and other repairs are still ongoing. We are working on getting those completed as quickly as possible.”

At last month’s River Region Chamber of Commerce Tri-Parish President Forum, St. Charles Parish President Matt Jewell gave an update on the overall health of the parish and its interests one year after the storm.

“Hurricane Ida has been the hot ticket item on all of our lists,” Jewell said, seated alongside St. John the Baptist Parish President Jaclyn Hotard and St. James Parish President Pete Dufresne. “We’re still recovering from last hurricane season … it’s been difficult to recover with labor market we have, the inflation we have, and that’s true not just for government, but our residents at home who can’t find contractors or are fighting with insurance companies. Whether it’s over $4,000 or $4 million, they’re treating you the same.”

Jewell went on to note efforts are ongoing in regards to parish beautification.

“Getting rid of blighted properties is high on the list,” Jewell said. “We were doing a lot better on that until Ida blighted a lot more of them. We’re working with business owners as part of our recovery who have blighted properties along our main corridor – we ask how it’s coming with insurance, with improvements.”

 

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