Tropical Weather Louisiana

Buildings and homes are flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, near Lake Charles, La.

(The Center Square) – Louisiana officials have created a $30 million voluntary buyout program for residents of an often-flooded Lake Charles neighborhood, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Friday.

Edwards said officials will pay for the program out of a $1.2 billion federal flood mitigation grant.

The Greinwich Terrace neighborhood of Lake Charles in southwest Louisiana has flooded three times over the past four years, including during this week’s heavy rain, according to the announcement. The new program falls under the Louisiana Watershed Initiative’s federally approved action plan for flood mitigation, and more buyouts could be forthcoming, officials said.

“As we continue to press the federal government for additional recovery funds following hurricanes Laura and Delta, we have been working with impacted communities to provide immediate relief to our residents and fund projects that align with federal grant requirements and our state’s long-term resilience objectives,” Edwards said in a prepared statement. “Through the Louisiana Watershed Initiative, we are working to address the needs of communities throughout the state with projects like buyouts, where the long-term flood risk reduction benefits are unquestionable.”

This week’s floods are only the latest weather disaster for Lake Charles, which was battered during last year’s hurricane season. Calcasieu Parish Police Jury President Brian Abshire said the buyouts will deliver immediate relief to residents who want to relocate while providing greater capacity to store water, benefiting people who live throughout the floodplain and beyond.

“Lake Charles has been devastated by storms, flooding and other disasters in just the past year alone, demanding quick action and innovative solutions to help our residents recover and position our community to thrive for years to come,” Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said. “This program gives our residents a reason to be optimistic about the future, no matter how painful the present, and demonstrates our collective commitment to enacting real change in the flood-prone areas of our state that need it the most.”

State and local officials will engage area residents to review their buyout options, the announcement said.

Staff Reporter

David Jacobs is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.