[StBernard] FEMA forgives two more Katrina disaster loans -- $28.7 million for Slidell Memorial Hospital and $4.6 million for St. Bernard schools

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Thu Feb 20 06:46:07 EST 2014

FEMA forgives two more Katrina disaster loans -- $28.7 million for Slidell
Memorial Hospital and $4.6 million for St. Bernard schools
Print Bruce Alpert, NOLA.com | Times-Picayune By Bruce Alpert, NOLA.com |
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on February 19, 2014 at 4:41 PM, updated February 19, 2014 at 10:15 PM

WASHINGTON - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to
forgive disaster loans for Louisiana communities made in the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina.

On Wednesday, FEMA announced that it used authority given it by 2013
legislation to forgive a $4.6 million loan for the St. Bernard Parish School
District and a $28.7 million loan for Slidell Memorial Hospital.

The loan forgiveness results from the 2013 provision added to a spending
bill by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., chair of the Senate Homeland Security
appropriations subcommittee.

Landrieu said the old criteria used by FEMA were based on an unreasonable
system of determining a parish or entity's financial ability to pay back the
loan. One example, she gave, is that the old formula penalized communities
for revenues that were already dedicated to other needed services.

To date, Landrieu's provision has canceled $228 million in loans for
southeast Louisiana communities, including $2.2 million for the City of
Covington and $305,000 for the Town of Delcambre last month.

The Landrieu provision was the culmination of a multi-year effort by her and
other Louisiana lawmakers to overcome language added to 2005 emergency
spending bills by House Republicans that required disaster loans for
Hurricane Katrina be repaid.

"After more than eight years of persistence and with the support of local
leaders in St. Tammany and St. Bernard, we changed the law to create a
commonsense formula that rightly canceled over $33 million in loans today,"
Landrieu said. "These parishes can now invest in providing our children with
an excellent education and residents with high quality health care. Today's
loan cancellations join a long list of Louisiana disaster loans that have
been forgiven in recent months, and I'm hopeful we will see more as our
communities continue to rebuild."

Bill Davis, CEO of Slidell Memorial Hospital, said the disaster loan
forgiven Wednesday was used to continue to provide health care services
after Katrina, make major repairs and replace equipment damaged or destroyed
by the hurricane.

"Had this loan not been forgiven, it could have significantly harmed our
financial health," Davis said in a statement. "We believed all along that
our case was strong for loan forgiveness under the intent of the Stafford
Act to provide relief for disaster related expenditures. We are deeply
grateful to Sen. Mary Landrieu and her staff for their efforts on behalf of
Slidell Memorial Hospital."

Davis also thanked FEMA, which was directed by President Barack Obama to
move quickly to implement the new Landrieu-written criteria for loan

Officials with St. Bernard schools also were pleased with Wednesday's

"We have been working with a broad coalition from Southeast Louisiana over
the past several years to have these loans forgiven but faced an uphill
battle under the previous calculations," said Doris Voitier, Superintendent
of St. Bernard Parish Schools. "Now, thanks to the leadership of Senator
Landrieu who continues to champion the recovery of our community and our
school system, the burden of having to repay these loans has been lifted.
This opens doors for us to make stronger investments in our educational
system, benefitting our students and moving us forward."

Bruce Alpert is a Washington-based reporter for NOLA.com/Times-Picayune. He
can be reached at balpert at nola.com

More information about the StBernard mailing list