BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — It has been nearly four decades since the 1983 flooding in Tangipahoa Parish damaged over 3,000 homes and businesses. A court ruled in favor of residents who blamed construction for drainage issues. Now the money for their settlement is nearly ready to be dispersed.
In the spring of 1983, a downpour rainstorm flooded surrounding rivers becoming the worst on record. Thousands of buildings were damaged in Tangipahoa Parish and a court ruled that issues with the I-12 construction led to poor drainage causing the flooding to worsen. The court ordered the state to pay $360 million.
After waiting for years, a deal was struck for the state to pay just $100 million to the 1,200 plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit. It was reduced with the belief the state couldn’t pay the original asking price. The legislature has passed multiple bills in the last couple of years to begin moving money from the budget into an account to pay the balance.
“We were fortunate enough to have the necessary funds available to do this. This is the one outstanding judgment of the state that had not been paid. The state pays judgments that are rendered against it. This has been a long time coming but it’s finally happening,” Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne said.
The money is coming from the state’s recent surplus and excess money. Just this week, the state treasurer put the last chunk of money into the fund to get the final approval.
“All the money is now in the fund awaiting to be recognized by REC,” Dardenne said.
The Tangipahoa residents, and for some who have passed away, their successors, are nearing their payout at last.
There are a couple more approvals that this process has to go through before the dispersal can begin. Next month the Revenue Estimating Committee will approve the payment to the account. Then in the weeks after the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget will approve the funds again through a BA-7. From there it will be up to the judge to decide if the payment is fair and accurate.