Seacoast Echo

"Katrina is finally over for Waveland" -- City set to receive final reimbursement from FEMA

By Cassandra Favre

Waveland Mayor Mike Smith on Wednesday announced that FEMA would be reinstating more than $1.4 million to the city in reference to PW's 4916 and 4917 for the Sanitary Sewer South (bladder tanks) project. 

"It's the last FEMA project we had over our heads," Smith said. "Katrina is finally over for Waveland." 

The bladder tanks were used after 2005's Hurricane Katrina left the city with no working sewer system, Waveland City Clerk Mickey Lagasse said. The plastic bladder tanks were placed at homes and campers to compensate for the lack of a sewer system. 

Smith said the reimbursement is allowed due to amendments made to the Stafford Act of 2018.

Smith said that, "If FEMA doesn't collect the money after three years, they can't collect." 

It's been more than 10 years since the bladder tanks project, Smith added. 

In the past six months, Smith has traveled to Washington D.C. twice to meet with leadership to help resolve this issue. The city also appealed this matter three times, Lagasse said. 

"I believe Waveland is one of the first cities to benefit," Smith said. 

Upon reinstatement of the $1.4 million, Smith said another $300,000 of held reimbursements that are currently being retained by the federal government will also be released, for a total of $1.7 million. 

The city recently invested the $1.6 million that officials kept on hold for FEMA with Trinity Capitol Investments. The funds were put on hold in case the city had to pay FEMA back, Lagasse said. 

"I owe a great deal of gratitude to the U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and her staff, my friend Myrtis Franke, Sen. Roger Wicker and his staff, and Congressman Steven Palazzo and his staff, for this endeavor," Smith said. "Without their leadership and perseverance, we would still be at a standstill. With the receipt of this money, I will be asking the Board of Aldermen to use some of those funds for capital projects utilizing as match when we can."