When Hurricane Katrina pushed across the Gulf of Mexico in 2005, it struck particularly hard at Plaquemines Parish, south of the city of New Orleans. The storm caused massive damage and destroyed the jail. Congress quickly appropriated supplemental help for the region, allocating funds through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for design and construction of a new jail. The Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office wanted to build a temporary jail as rapidly as possible, followed by a permanent, replacement jail facility. However, the FEMA funding application, review and approval process was extremely complex and threatened a timely completion of the project. Faced with an array of post-Hurricane issues to manage, the Sheriff’s Office sought assistance to navigate the technical and bureaucratic process and keep the project moving forward.
FEMA was challenged to manage the heavy volume of applications for assistance for the huge reconstruction effort that extended along a wide swath of the Gulf Coast. The parish needed to engage consultants and partners who could appropriately and accurately manage the required paperwork to quickly move the project forward. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina and in an effort to quickly address the critical need for expedited construction, funding requests were submitted in the form of Project Worksheets. However, early in the planning process the actual cost of the projects were not known when worksheets were submitted to FEMA, thus creating some potential for delays in resolving the issue. FEMA initially approved construction of both a temporary and a new permanent jail facility.
Plaquemines Parish sheriff realized he would need help in navigating these issues. He decided to hire an experienced firm that could assist him. “I felt it was crucial not only to bring on board a program manager who understood the challenges facing Plaquemines Parish, but also to include an architecture and engineering firm with extensive correctional-facility experience as a central part of the team,” the sheriff said. His first step was to engage a local New Orleans consulting firm as a program manager to begin conversations with FEMA. Immediately the consulting firm contacted L.R. Kimball to join the team because of L.R. Kimball’s solid reputation for developing jails. L.R. Kimball, working in tandem with the Parish, the State, FEMA, and the program manager, leveraged its project management expertise to identify an alternate solution. Their solution was centered on an expedited construction schedule for a single facility that would meet the Parish’s needs while saving FEMA and taxpayers significant money by building only one facility. It was critical to engage a firm that could understand the funding process and deliver targeted results in completing and providing the paperwork and technical information required to ensure the project received FEMA funding approval. Backed by its strong reputation for achieving results, L.R. Kimball quickly began working with the Parish to revise the Project Worksheet as needed. FEMA uses Project Worksheets to approve funding to local jurisdictions.