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St. Tammany sues FEMA over refusal to clean up debris

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User ID: 255919
United States
06/23/2007 02:05 PM
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St. Tammany sues FEMA over refusal to clean up debris
[link to www.wwltv.com]

Perhaps more than any subdivision in St. Tammany Parish, the Coin du Lestin neighborhood is not the same since Katrina.

Many homes in the upscale area are abandoned. Many more are up for sale.

But neighbors say they don’t expect any interest in them until the canal that used to add value and aesthetics to the area is cleaned up.

The canal used to be eight feet deep, but Katrina blew muck and marsh grass into it and now the canal is less than two feet deep.

Residents assumed that FEMA would clean up the canal as part of the effort to pick up storm debris, but so far the agency has resisted.

“Just put it back in a restoration project that would help St. Tammany,” said Parish President Kevin Davis. “Just pump it back into the marsh where it came from and they say they can’t do the dredging.”

Residents said the federal government should clean up the mess because most of it came from the Federal Wildlife Refuge nearby.

With that in mind, the parish intends to sue FEMA to have the mess cleaned up. Attorneys say they can sue FEMA because the agency was negligent in not following its own rules.

“We believe the Stafford Act says that they are here to remove the hurricane debris and that is what it is,” said Davis. “Just because it may not be two-by-fours that should not be the issue.

Davis said the restoration would cost $14 million and residents say that until it happens their lives will not be normal.

FEMA officials told Eyewitness News that they haven’t seen the lawsuit, but when they do they’ll have their counsel and Justice Department attorneys decide what to do next.

Davis said he hopes to have the suit heard in the next nine to 14 months.

The risk far outweighs any benefit as the risk will vary from child to child.


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