Half of St. Bernard Parish to Be Demo’d

Wed December 07, 2005 - National Edition

CHALMETTE, LA (AP) St. Bernard Parish will soon begin demolishing buildings laid to waste by Hurricane Katrina.

The parish council approved in November a list of 320 buildings set for demolition. Inspectors had deemed each of the buildings to have 100 percent damage from Hurricane Katrina, meaning the damage exceeds the home’s pre-Katrina value.

Some of the buildings had been moved from their foundation by floodwaters or have already collapsed, said Mike Hunnicutt, director of the parish’s Department of Community Development. In some cases, the buildings are in the middle of streets or canals.

“This is the worst of the worst,” he said.

Council Chairman Joey DiFatta said the beginning of demolitions is “a step in the right direction for the recovery of the parish.”

“We need to take down the unsafe structures so the rebuilding can get started. That’s the start of a rebirth. The sooner you can start to rebuild, the sooner you can get on with your life,” DiFatta said.

Although officials once thought as many as 80 percent of the parish’s structures would have to be demolished, the number appears to be lower than feared, according to evaluations by professional inspectors.

But Hunnicutt said he expects about 50 percent of the parish’s buildings to be demolished after owners consider the structural assessments combined with health and environmental safety concerns.