February 2, 2006
By Theresa Schmidt
Clearing up debris from Hurricane Rita seems to be an unending challenge for Calcasieu Police Jurors. And the passage of time creates more and more questions about which debris is truly from the hurricane and therefore eligible for pickup under the government program.
Police Juror Don Manuel explains, "Some of these people they're tearing these mobile homes down and they're putting them on the side of the road, cutting up the metal and just stacking them. Is FEMA going to pick that up?"
But FEMA's Pete Weurpal, with the agency's public assistance department, agrees to try to cut through the red tape for jurors as far as resolving individual cases. He told jurors, "First of all, any debris that is eligible must be storm generated. That's the first proviso. As to the particulars of a given mobile home, that is a specific item that would have to be addressed independently. I prefer to have the specifics of that and I will address it in response to your question no later than close of business tomorrow."
Jurors have also asked FEMA to decipher the agency's system for color coding debris so jurors know what to make of spray painted debris in their districts.
On another issue juror Hal McMillin reminds businesses such as roofers they cannot put their signs in public rights of way. "They're putting them in rights of way and they're putting them in intersections to get the most visibility. We have an ordinance in this parish. That is illegal, we're going to make sure that we enforce this ordinance. And we need to make sure this is known to these out of state, out of area, out of parish contractors that are now in our parish-- that this type of littering with these signs throughout the parish is not going to be tolerated."
Officials say violating the sign ordinance could bring a fine of up to five hundred dollars.