Friday, August 28, 2015

WDSU 10 Years Forward

WDSU - TV    10 Years Forward:  St Bernard Parish

"It's time to celebrate. We've got a lot of good things going on. You know, we lost a lot, but we've gained an awful lot. Again, you were here, you know what it looked like. It's a remarkable difference now."  -- Parish President Peralta

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Our Story

Concerned Citizens neighborhood association in St Bernard Parish, Louisiana, began as a means to have our voices heard in District C postKatrina. Our area captain was clearly instructed in early 2006 to 'not invite' those returning, rebuilding residents from the streets closest to the refinery. Shortly afterwards, Murphy Oil's tank farm expansion plans public noticed and the neighbors decided to form the association to address quality of life issues; more specifically those of our community's environment. CCAM members began to join with other neighbors for neighborhoods to effect the ever changing decisions that empact our community by encouraging citizen participation and providing advocacy for all residents who are committed to return, rebuild, and remain in St Bernard Parish, Louisiana.

Later we learned of the council resolution for a letter of no objection to the Army Corps of Engineers for Murphy Oil to construct this tank farm expansion on what seemed to be lower lying lands with natural waterways or wetlands. The tank farm expansion is slated for an area adjacent to established residential neighborhoods and seems to have no improvements for spill containment, storm preparedness, nor soil subsidence. So much for lessons learned.

Returning in 2005 after hurricanes Rita and Katrina, parts of our neighborhoods were not included in the oil spill maps. Murphy Oil executives went door to door to greet residents and give assurances their area had no oil, the household items were not contaminated, it was safe to clean out one's own home, and there would be no buyouts. The area was repopulated during Fall 2005 and some neighbors were actually fortunate enough to celebrate the Christmas holidays inside restored homes.Two years later a voluntary buyout would be one of the many options of a class action suit, Turner v Murphy Oil. The defendant's attorneys stated at the Fairness Hearing that the buyout properties would be a green zone buffer and the newspapers reported this as greenspace. At Community meetings and Council Meetings, it was continually and consistently purported as "greenspace". Any talk of industrial buildings and other commercial use of the land were firmly disputed by refinery representatives who insisted it would be "greenspace, that was the plan". People made agreements based on this understanding that it is this empty greenspace, now in existence, which is to function as the buffer.

Demolition of the buyup properties caused restored homes to have structural damage claims and yet another wake of destruction on our residential streets. Illegally placed cement truck weigh stations and less than best business practices added insult to injury. Only half of the sidewalks have been restored and the children are left to play in the same streets that some propose to add increased industrial traffic.

Further illuminating the local politics and poor zoning, heavy industry is still allowed within 100 feet of residential properties, however, new rental laws require single family dwellings, when rented out, to be specially permitted and spaced 500 feet apart. Noise ordinances have been updated for music speakers but not enforced for industrial sources.

Our Future, who knows. Let's just hope the levees are rebuilt to a higher level of integrity.

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