The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development had a big problem. Hurricane Katrina cleanup-related expense records could not be located. Without these records, the agency was faced with reimbursing FEMA $2,000,000 unnecessarily.
DOTD’s inability to locate vital proof of expense records put $2M of state funds at risk.
Access Sciences’ personnel identified the location of these lost records in time to avoid financial penalties from FEMA.
DOTD was able to provide proof of costs to FEMA avoiding unnecessary reimbursement costs.
Hurricane Katrina was the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States. At least 1,245 people died in the hurricane and subsequent floods, making it the deadliest United States hurricane since 1928. Total property damage was estimated at $108 billion including widespread devastation across much of coastal Louisiana and Mississippi. 80% of New Orleans and neighboring parishes were flooded.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is responsible for maintaining public transportation, roadways, bridges, canals, select levees, floodplains, port facilities, commercial vehicles, and airports, in the State of Louisiana. The agency has approximately 5,000 personnel on staff. DOTD operations are run through nine district offices across the state.
DOTD was instrumental in the State of Louisiana’s preparation for and response to Hurricane Katrina. Prior to the hurricane, DOTD created the state’s emergency evacuation plan including development of Emergency Evacuation Routes that were used to successfully evacuate 1.4 million people from south Louisiana.
In Katrina’s aftermath, the State of Louisiana, and especially DOTD faced enormous challenges responding to the overwhelming needs of its people and supporting infrastructure. During this tumultuous period, DOTD incurred substantial cleanup costs with a commitment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for reimbursement of documented expenses. Debris cleanup costs alone totaled more than $150M statewide (a volume 25 times that of the World Trade Center).
Without a centralized records management program or repository, DOTD was forced to track down, through phone calls and emails to individual groups and district offices, documents required by FEMA to justify cleanup-related expenditures. In the turmoil that followed the hurricane, many of these records had been boxed and stored in obscure locations within local district and parish offices, particularly in New Orleans. At the time of Katrina, DOTD records search efforts were conducted on a “who you know” basis, with a corresponding challenge of finding the person who not only knew where the records were being stored, but that the records existed at all.
As part of a records inventory project at a local district office, the Access Sciences’ staff embedded within DOTD discovered and documented records associated with the Hurricane Katrina cleanup efforts. During an unrelated information sharing meeting with DOTD’s Emergency Response Section, they discussed efforts to locate the Hurricane Katrina cleanup expense records. Because of their work on the records inventory, the Access Sciences team was able to describe where to locate these critical records. By producing the records, DOTD was able to satisfy FEMA’s records requirements and avoid reimbursing FEMA $2,000,000.
Since 2010, Access Sciences is proud to have supported DOTD in its mission to deliver transportation and public works systems that enhance quality of life and facilitate economic growth.