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Graves Joins Southside Elementary and Southside Junior High at Groundbreaking Ceremony for New Campus

September 10, 2020
Press Release
Last two schools to be rebuilt from the 2016 Flood, aided by Graves’ provision

DENHAM SPRINGS, LA – U.S. Congressman Garret Graves (South Louisiana) joined Southside Elementary and Southside Junior High at the groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate their new Southside campus. Following the 2016 Flood, Graves changed federal law through the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA) to prevent FEMA from diverting tens of millions of dollars from educating our students to filling federal coffers. President Donald Trump signed Graves’ provision into law in October of 2018 which enabled more funds to be allocated through FEMA grants.

“So many good people worked to make today happen. We refused to take ‘no’ for answer when confronted with financial, legal, regulatory and timing obstacles. This doesn’t happen much but today represents everyone pushing in the same direction to make the right thing happen for the children and future generations of Livingston Parish. Days like this make it worth it,” Graves said. “Livingston Parish is in great hands and the efforts over time by former Superintendent Rick Wentzel, current Superintendent Joe Murphy and former School Board President Buddy Mincey have been nothing short of giant forces shaping Livingston’s promising future.”  

In May 2020, Graves announced $40,563,208.73 of federal flood recovery resources to repair the damages at Denham Springs Elementary School (DSES), Southside Elementary School (SES), Southside Junior High School (SJHS) and for system-wide school contents replacement needs resulting from Louisiana’s Great Flood of 2016. 

For schools, the legislation removed a huge penalty that was imposed on each flooded school building to be limited to a one-penalty-per-facility limit, meaning several million more could be awarded from FEMA. Livingston Parish schools, for example, the overall reduction was nearly $21 million and when the Graves’ language was applied, the deduction was reduced to $3 million – saving the Livingston Parish schools $17.8 million in recovery funding with the Graves’ provision.

On August 28, 2020, Graves announced the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office was to be reimbursed $2,242,377 in response to the 2016 Flood and emergency housing solution for Livingston Parish sheriff deputies. The grant is the result of an amendment Graves offered after the federal government proved they could not adequately, inexpensively or efficiently respond to the disaster.

Graves authored a series of bipartisan federal disaster policy changes which advanced the bill out of House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Click here for a list of Graves’ involvement with resiliency legislation.

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