New Orleans to get $141 million grant to improve handling of stormwater

New Orleans will receive about $141 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to make improvements in how the city handles stormwater. The figure is about half of what Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration had requested.

Landrieu submitted an ambitious, half-billion-dollar plan in response to HUD’s National Disaster Resilience Challenge, which is supposed to help local governments that dealt with disasters between 2011 and 2013.

The proposal called for wide-ranging improvements throughout the city, using money from HUD, as well as the $45 million the city received in a settlement from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Other city funds would make up the remainder of the total.

While details on where the money will go have not been released, HUD’s announcement focused on what the city has dubbed the Gentilly Resilience District, a network of stormwater projects that extend beyond the traditional boundaries of the neighborhood and encompass a swath of the city from City Park to the Industrial Canal.

The Mayor’s Office refused Thursday to provide additional information on the grant or what it would fund, saying New Orleans Redevelopment Authority Director Jeff Hebert, the city’s “chief resilience officer,” was not available and that details would not be released until next week.

New Orleans City Councilman Jared Brossett, whose district includes Gentilly, said the award represents a significant step in efforts toward “living with water,” a concept embodied in the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan that encourages the city to find ways to deal with stormwater that also will prevent the city from continuing to sink.

“I am particularly excited that this pilot resilience effort will focus on Gentilly, an area perfectly situated both for its central location and its need of improved stormwater management,” Brossett said.

New Orleans was one of five cities and eight states to receive money through the Disaster Resilience Challenge grant program from a list of about 40 finalists.

Of those governments, only New York City, which was awarded $176 million, received more money.

Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.

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