ST. AMANT — Dalton Vicknair waited Friday morning for a siding company truck to show up at his home on Huntington Drive in southern Ascension Parish.
Vicknair, 64, a retired long-haul truck driver, is still in recovery and repair mode from the August flood with a big pile of debris sitting in front of his house, just west of La. 22 in St. Amant.
His house, which is elevated on piers, received 3 inches of water in August, damaging floors, doors and molding, he said. While he has made progress on the interior, the bare wood on the outside walls were exposed Friday, waiting for the new siding to arrive.
Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa announced this week that parish government plans to make one more round of debris pickup in the next several weeks to remove recovery-related trash piles like Vicknair's that are still in the parish more than 10 months since the great flood.
The announcement came Thursday night as Matassa warned the Parish Council that this round would be aimed at debris piles not eligible for reimbursement by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Many of the remaining piles are on private land either too far back from the public right of way or along private roads and aren't eligible, even under FEMA's extended curbside program the parish used after the flood.
"We're going to have to put it on our own nickel," said Matassa, who added he hoped the final pass would be finished by the end of July.
As part of the announcement, the council adopted a resolution Thursday at Matassa's request declaring a state of emergency so the parish will be able to enter private property, with the idea that debris removal is a public service needed for the health, safety and welfare of the parish.
Parish Attorney O'Neil Parenton Jr. said he found the state Attorney General's Office opinions that allowed the city of New Orleans to use a similar rationale to remove debris on private property and even demolish houses after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Parenton said he discussed the issue with 23rd Judicial District Attorney Ricky Babin.
"It's legal. … We don't have any problem as long as you go under a state of emergency to do it," Parenton, an assistant district attorney, told the council shortly before members declared the emergency.
Under FEMA reimbursement rules, the parish has hauled away 342,658 cubic yards of construction demolition debris since the flood, plus appliances, electronic waste and household hazardous waste, parish tallies say.
The first phase of work lasted from August to January and gathered the vast majority of debris and relied most heavily on contracted haulers. It cost nearly $8.9 million. FEMA is finalizing reimbursement of $7.97 million to the parish, or 90 percent of the total cost of the first phase, parish tallies show. The cost included debris monitoring.
The second phase, which occurred in April and May and removed 6,034 cubic yards of construction demolition debris, cost the parish another $165,575. The parish is still working on obtaining 90 percent FEMA reimbursement for that phase.
Parish officials laid out two options Thursday for hauling the last phase of debris: contract or in-house hauling. But Rick Webre, director of the parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, suggested Friday the last phase may end up mirroring a blend of options that the parish used in the second phase of debris removal this spring.
Parish crews picked up debris from throughout the parish and dropped it off at an approved transfer point inside the parish owned Lamar-Dixon Expo Center. Contracted haulers then shipped the waste to landfills. The cost is expected to be close to what the parish spent on the second phase of debris removal, Webre said.
Matassa told the council Thursday that the state, through the Restore Louisiana Task Force, would be sharing the addresses of more than 7,900 households affected by the flood in Ascension Parish.
The parish is planning to call those households and encourage them to sign up for the state's $1.7 billion recovery program, but Matassa said phone callers will also be asking if people have piles of debris to pickup.
Back in St. Amant on Friday, Vicknair said he had recently talked to the parish about picking up his debris pile and a worker told him about the new round being planned.
"If I get it done, get my yard cleaned, get my house finished up, that's it," he said, minutes before the siding delivery truck showed up on his street.