[StBernard] New use urged for home slabs

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Mon Jan 15 20:28:16 EST 2007

New use urged for home slabs
Armor levees with concrete, officials say
Monday, January 15, 2007
By Bob Warren

St. Bernard Parish officials think they've come up with a way to help
protect levees beaten silly by Hurricane Katrina -- and at the same time
remove some of the physical scars that pock the parish more than 16 months
after the storm.

Now, they're hoping the Army Corps of Engineers will buy into the plan.

Several members of the St. Bernard Parish Council recently pitched a
proposal to the corps in which the federal agency would use concrete from
the slabs of demolished houses to armor the levees along the Mississippi
River-Gulf Outlet.

Councilwoman Judy Hoffmeister said the corps has earmarked about $74 million
for armoring the levees. "I wondered why they're paying for new rock when
here we have 5,000 to 7,000 slabs," she said.

Hoffmeister and others have complained that while the federal government is
financing home demolition and debris removal, it does not cover costs to
remove the concrete slabs.

"It's really an impediment to our recovery," she said of the old slabs.

Hoffmeister and other officials say the slabs, many of which have exposed
pipes and iron jutting from them, are safety hazards. Hoffmeister, for
instance, said children on skateboards have taken to using the slab of her
demolished home.

"There are all kinds of legal issues with these slabs," Councilman-at-large
Joey DiFatta said.

Council members pushed corps representatives to explore the plan during a
meeting earlier this month.

Chris Gilmore, the corps' project manager for levees in St. Bernard Parish,
said the corps has used slab material in other levee projects and that the
agency is doing an economic analysis of the St. Bernard proposal. He said
the corps hopes to have the analysis completed by the end of the month.

. . . . . . .

Bob Warren can be reached at bwarren at timespicayune.com or (504) 826-3363.

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