This week U.S. Congressman Garret Graves and Louisiana’s Congressional Delegation released a letter they sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which urged them to speed up the completion of the Blue Roof Program.
The Blue Roof Program’s mission is to provide homeowners and permanently occupied rental properties in disaster areas with fiber-reinforced sheeting to cover their damaged roofs until arrangements can be made for permanent repairs.
“The Blue Roof Program is moving way too slow. With tens of thousands of damaged roofs across south Louisiana during storm season, the Corps has to expedite getting these homes protected otherwise damages will be exacerbated,” Graves said.
St. Charles Parish President Matthew Jewell has expressed his own dismay on the matter via his Facebook page.
“I agree with Congressman Graves. The Blue Roof program is taking entirely too long,” Jewell wrote. “4,667 St. Charles Parish residents have requested blue roofs, 294 have been sent to the contractor and only 20 have been installed. It’s time to cut the red tape and get more boots on the ground.”
Earlier this month Graves and other congressional members asked for FEMA to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reevaluate its determination of eligibility for certain parishes for the Blue Roof program due to substantial damages from Hurricane Ida. Subsequently, 10 additional parishes were then added to the program.
Graves’ letter reads:
Dear Lieutenant General Spellmon:
While we are appreciative of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ management of the Operation Blue Roof program, we are writing today with concerns about its current operational state. Our constituents have cited problems with delivery and access, including in rural areas of Southeast Louisiana. We encourage the Corps to use every available resource to ensure this program is moving as quickly as possible in all impacted Parishes.
As you know, Hurricane Ida devastated Louisiana with winds of over 150 miles per hour. This hurricane caused extreme damage to homes throughout south Louisiana. Many homeowners are relying on the Blue Roof program to protect their homes while they wait for permanent repairs. Unfortunately, we are hearing that many constituents have had difficulty utilizing this program in a timely manner. Amid the peak of hurricane season, it is imperative that homeowners can access this program as quickly and easily as possible.
It is our understanding that as of September 22, over 62,358 individuals have registered for the Blue Roof program and 3,743 installations have been completed. It is also our further understanding that the Corps is ramping up capacity to perform nearly 600 installations a day. While we appreciate the accelerated speed under this ramp up, at that rate it would take approximately 98 days to complete installation for every applicant under the Blue Roof program. This timeframe is unacceptable and will lead to additional damage to homes while people’s roofs remain exposed to the elements.
Our constituents are recuperating from a life-changing event and this program is crucial in helping recovery efforts. We urge the Corps to expand the capacity for these projects to include as many contractors as needed to complete installation in an expedited pace. We would like to be updated on all measures you are taking to speed up installation and what you are doing to make it as easy as possible for hurricane survivors to enroll in the program. Finally, we request regular reports, broken down by Parish, on the number of individuals served each day.
We appreciate all you are doing to help Louisiana recover from this historic disaster and look forward to your response.