Originally run in the American Press, 4/20/2021
Our region has endured perhaps more than any other in our nation with two powerful hurricanes and an ice storm amid a worldwide pandemic. Despite these challenges, Southwest Louisiana continues to thrive. Our industrial base is strong, our aviation sector is growing, the hospitality industry is rebounding, our vital medical community continues to be the area’s largest employment sector, and agriculture is still the foundation for our region.
Tremendous progress has been made in recovery, yet much remains to be done. Many homeowners and businesses are grappling with insurance companies for funding for rebuilding. Many of the same are awaiting contractors and building materials. Some have been in this process for months and some projects are completed. Most every business and educational buildings we have observed are rebuilding stronger and better than before.
A tremendous amount of debris has been picked up. Contractors for the city of Lake Charles have picked up over 4 million cubic yards.
In Calcasieu Parish, including the towns and cities, there has been over 12.4 million cubic yards picked up. That’s enough to make a large mountain in our otherwise flat terrain. Much debris, fallen trees, and construction material still remain to be picked up. Thousands of volunteers have picked up litter along the roadsides. Our Alliance staff picked up trash along Ryan Street near The SEED Center. The next day there were cups and other trash back on Ryan. It’s a simple act to not throw trash out the window or let it blow out of the back of your pickup.
Everyone has a civic duty to not litter, especially in light of the volunteer efforts to clean up our area.
There are many circumstances preventing the rebuilding process, and that is understandable. However, the amount of vacant homes and commercial buildings with no apparent sign of activity is staggering.
Each community has code enforcement to deal with property owners who do not either rebuild or demolish their property.
The city of Lake Charles has been proactive in this effort. According to city of Lake Charles Administrator John Cardone, city employees have identified over 500 severely damaged houses and commercial buildings that have no activity on the premises. After notifying property owners, the city can demolish the structures and put a lien against the properties to recover the cost. Again, we realize there are many circumstances, but this is a matter that should be handled by the property owners and not the city.
The city has also identified about 200 structures with code violations. A majority of the 350 adjudicated properties have been cleared. Since the hurricanes, over 100 properties have been identified and standards processed for violations such as tall grass, junk, debris and downed trees.
The Alliance continues to have industrial prospects visit our area and they understand we are in the recovery process.
However, it’s time for personal responsibility to get vacant lots and properties at least cleaned up until the rebuilding or demolition process takes place.
It’s a boost to everyone’s spirit to see new buildings and homes rising out of the tragedy we have endured.
Getting the region cleaned up will help us all and make a statement that Southwest Louisiana is resilient and will be even better than before.