Two Youngsville drainage projects have been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a share of the $25 million in hazard mitigation funds available to Acadiana as a result of the August 2016 flood.
Youngsville's $7.3 million detention pond projects are the first in the Acadiana region to receive federal approval, but it will be another two years until the ponds are a reality.
FEMA's March 28 letters give Youngsville the go-ahead for the engineering phase of the projects, which must be completed within a year. Once those plans are approved, construction can begin.
"It's not being constructed today," said Youngsville Mayor Ken Ritter. "The good news is we're still the first ones able to move forward."
In 2017, Acadiana leaders pooled together their federal hazard mitigation grant program funds to address drainage problems from a regional perspective.
The Acadiana Planning Commission voted in February 2018 to designate $7.3 million of the region's available $25 million in federal funding to detention pond projects in Youngsville, where hundreds of homes flooded in 2016.
The detention ponds are expected to alleviate flooding of two coulees that drain 90 percent of Youngsville and improve drainage across the region.
"These two ponds are on the two main coulees that drain from Youngsville," Ritter said. "What these ponds have been modeled to do is reduce the base flood level. When the neighborhoods drain to the coulees and the coulees are full, they'll drain to these ponds until the coulees can drain into the system. It will basically give the system a greater capacity."
The $5 million Bailey Grove/Bayou Parc Perdu Regional Detention Ponds in Youngsville are expected to ease flooding in parts of Lafayette, Iberia and Vermilion parishes.
The $2.3 million Coulee LaSalle Regional Detention Pond in Youngsville is expected to ease flooding in Lafayette, St. Martin and Iberia parishes.
Federal funds will pay $1,077,237 in design expenses for the Bailey Grove ponds and $724,749 for the LaSalle pond. Local and state funds must cover the rest of the design expenses — $359,079 for Bailey Grove and $241,583 for LaSalle.
The remaining budget for the ponds will go toward construction costs. Construction plans will be submitted for federal funding approval after the engineering phase is complete.
"I'm very proud that our projects were the first ones approved by FEMA," Ritter said. "We have successfully navigated the bureaucracy to get approval to proceed through the hazardous mitigation funding process."
Other Acadiana projects awaiting approval by FEMA for hazard mitigation funds include:
- Scott's $1.5 million Coulee Ile des Cannes L8C regional detention ponds
- Scott's $2.4 million Coulee des Cannes flood control project
- Evangeline Parish's $1.4 million detention pond northwest of Ville Platte
- Iberia Parish's $5.3 million Bayou Parc Perdu regional detention pond and improvements at Lake Peigneur
- St. Martin Parish's $2 million Cypress Bayou and Coulee LaSalle drainage improvements
- St. Martin Parish's $2.4 million regional gauge network project
- Vermilion Parish's $2.7 million elevation of the La. 14 bypass