The mayor of French Settlement and two aldermen took their seats Wednesday night at a folding table in a partitioned storage shed behind the town hall.
The corrugated metal building with exposed white insulation and drywall is now home to the village's government functions, including public meetings and the police station.
And the impromptu shed will continue serving as the town hall for the foreseeable future because there's not enough money to fix up the town hall that Mayor Toni Guitrau said flooded "up to the top of the desk" in August 2016.
Guitrau said about $50,000 more is needed to fix the town hall facility and and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has turned down requests for additional money.
French Settlement is one of three Livingston Parish towns — the others are Denham Springs and Albany — that are still out of their permanent buildings a year after the flood.
Guitrau said the town hall did not have flood insurance, because she did not know the town hall was considered to be in a floodplain. It was built in 1976 — prior to changes in flood maps that included it within the flood plain— and had never flooded before, even during widespread flooding in the parish in 1983.
After providing the village with about $57,000 used to fix up the backyard shed and an outdoor pavilion that's used when more than 13 people show up at village meeting meeting, FEMA denied additional requests for money, the mayor said.
The village council, which has no tax revenue and survives off fines, franchise fees and grant money, agreed Wednesday night to stay in the temporary building and apply for grants to finish the work.
In Albany, the mayor has more confidence FEMA money will come through, though his patience is running short.
There, the village government has taken up work in an empty parish health unit as it awaits a determination about its town hall and police station.
Mayor Gene Glascock said the village did not carry insurance, as the building was not in a floodplain. He is hoping FEMA will agree to replace both buildings, which were more than 50 percent damaged.
"It's getting a little aggravating," he said. "You'd think the water just went down."
Meanwhile, in Denham Springs, the city government may permanently relocate rather than renovate.
Ray Hines hopes his 77th birthday will be a time of celebration.
The city has signed a letter of intent to buy the former Capitol One Bank, according to Mayor Gerard Landry, and executed Wednesday a one-year lease that would count towards a future purchase of the building.
The former bank at 116 N. Range Ave. has been the site of the city's municipal operation for about a year, housing the city's public works, mayor's office, marshal's office and city court since the old city hall was inundated with more than four feet of water.
Landry said the downtown facility may actually be better than the old city hall. It's in the historic area the city is trying to revitalize, and it's near all of the annual festivals and outdoor events.
"It only make sense that city hall is there, as well," he said.
And, he added, "It didn't flood."
The city and bank have agreed on a $1 million purchase price for the building, Landry said. The one-year $167,577 lease would count towards that price, and the bank has agreed to discount any costs for substantial repairs, he said. The bank allowed the city to use the building for free for the first six months, he said.
The deal is not final, as the city is still waiting for a determination from FEMA, which is expected to help the city either relocate to this facility or fix the old one by the police station. Landry said repairs at the old city hall at 941 Government Drive are estimated at $1.5 million.
The city was underinsured to repair the building in case of flood, he said.