Community Meeting #3 took place under Father Roch Naquin’s home at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 1, 2017. The objectives of the meeting were: (1) to provide information and answer questions about potential resettlement sites and the site selection process; (2) if possible, reach a consensus on residential preference of site selection, and; (3) launch a newly-established Transitional Housing Program.
81 people attended Community Meeting #3, including current and former Isle de Jean Charles residents, several news outlets, representatives from local NGOs, and members of the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw, United Houma Nation and the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe. Attendees perused maps of the proposed potential resettlement sites and their possible various configurations. Mathew Sanders, OCD-DRU Resilience Policy & Program Administrator, and Thomas David, President, Pan American Engineers, first presented an overview of the methodology used to seek out various possible regional sites, eventually narrowing the number of sites to three, with a total of five possible configurations. These three sites, Main Project Road, Evergreen (Chevron), and Rebecca had been vetted for their development suitability. The sites and their attributes, with respect to future flood risk, location, parcel size, and amenities in and around the sites were presented to the community in an open discussion.
In order to understand Islanders’ site selection preferences, OCD-DRU distributed surveys prior to, during, and after Community Meeting #3. OCD-DRU asked residents to bring their surveys to the meeting if they felt comfortable submitting them at that time, and hoped to use the gathering as an opportunity to build consensus around one of the proposed sites and configurations. Unfortunately, not every resident was able to attend the meeting and/or submit their surveys. Therefore, a consensus could not be reached at that time. There was, however, a robust discussion with many current residents and other meeting attendees asking questions and weighing in on the potential sites.
The third objective of the meeting was in response to a number of current Island residents who have expressed a desire to leave their on-Island homes while the new community is under development. In response, the state has set up a transitional housing program, which will be offered to all current permanent resident households living on the Island or those displaced since Hurricane Isaac’s initial Louisiana landfall, August 28, 2012. Program intake will remain open indefinitely, accounting for the scenario of a disaster event affecting the Island prior to the completion of the Resettlement Project. This will allow the state to provide rapid assistance during this development period.
As the Resettlement Project moves forward, all current permanent residents of the Island will be offered an opportunity to move to a safer place, yet the long-term ownership structure of the new community remains unresolved; long-term ownership structure will be determined during an upcoming master planning project phase. The state and its partners, with input from the Island community, will develop a set of viable ownership alternatives. In the interim, the state intends to use the Louisiana Land Trust as a vehicle to acquire and hold the selected property until which time a permanent ownership structure is developed.
Through the Resettlement Project, the state will first prioritize placement of two groups of households into new housing units within the new community: (1) current Island residents; (2) residents displaced from the Island on or after the date of Hurricane Isaac’s landfall, August, 29, 2012. Availability of project resources will determine the extent to which additional groups may be offered units or otherwise benefit from the project.