VIDEO: County moves from response to recovery in Imelda

Published 12:27 pm Saturday, September 28, 2019

By Michael Cole

The Orange Leader

“I want to thank everyone in this county,” Orange County Judge John Gothia declared when opening the Thursday Commissioners Court session. “Especially from our employee base that worked extremely hard over the last several days to get this county up and running.”

The Court met on Thursday since their regular Tuesday meeting was postponed from the effects of TS Imelda. In which the court jumped immediately into items related to Imelda.

At the recommendation of Emergency Management Coordinator Joel Ardoin, the court decided on the following:


  • Extending the disaster declaration for 30. It will now be in effect till October 26, 2019.
  • The waiving of building permit fees for storm-related repairs. Residents will still need to apply for permits, but the fees will be waived.
  • The waiving of landfill fees for the County
  • The County reopened its closed landfill site for debris pending paperwork and procedure.
  • Deactivating the Emergency Operations Center. The county will still be actively monitoring the situation, however.
  • Closed the PODS as of 6 p.m. Friday 


When asked about progress toward a Presidentially declared disaster, Ardoin explained that the county has been pushing an online disaster survey at the County’s website at

The county has been using the data to do individual assessments of damaged property to meet the threshold for a disaster declaration.

Ardoin added, “The state has been extremely impressed with our process and might end up making it standard procedure for other counties.”

He feels the total number of damaged homes between Orange and Jefferson County will be enough to qualify for Federal disaster aid. However, he has no idea of when a declaration would be made.

According to Ardoin, the county used 2,251 man hours on response efforts.

Gothia reminded the court about the long term recovery group, Orange County Disaster Rebuild was still up and running and would continue to do so. He also pointed out that the state has created a $1Billion drainage fund which the county is working with Jasper and Newton counties to obtain funds to improve drainage.

The court was unanimous in thanking the residents and county employees for their hard work and community spirit.

Precinct 3 County Commissioner, Kirk Roccaforte added, “I am proud of everybody, from the citizens all the way up to the entities. To the guys that put themselves out there and risk their lives going out into storms. It’s amazing to watch; it’s amazing to know these people.”

An emotional Precinct 4 Commissioner, Robert Viator, Jr thanked his fellow commissioners and the county.

“Precinct 4 was hit extremely hard and its citizens for a second time,” Viator said. “We will make it. We will survive it.”

Ingrid Holmes and Lauren Broussard from The Gift of Life program were on hand to receive a proclamation declaring September as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and September 26 as Gift of Life Program Day. 

According to Holmes, each year The Gift of Life provides over 2,300 free breast cancer screenings to disadvantaged women. 

The program also provides free prostate screenings.

This year, Holmes said, they have diagnosed 17 cases of breast cancer. 

Holmes reminded the court of its Gift of Life Run on October 5 in Beaumont.