Vermilion Parish - Community Involvement
The Long-Term Community Recovery (LTCR) team connected with a diverse spectrum of parish residents by actively listening to residents, touring affected regions of Vermilion parish, pursuing personal relationships at community events, and regularly attending and presenting at local governmental meetings. The degree of community participation and the amount of valuable intelligence solicited reflect the high degree of confidence and trust in the LTCR team by key community stakeholders, a trust which once earned was soon communicated throughout the parish. Without this trust, the team would have been unable to engage, in its community planning sessions, over 150 residents and leaders, young and old, Cajun and Creole, of all incomes and professional backgrounds. Several opportunities were provided for community discussion, leadership building and visioning, including a government workshop in Abbeville, a storefront open house, a session for youth at an Abbeville high school, and a road show for the towns of Erath and Delcambre.
Vermilion parish is a close-knit network of communities connected by extended families and trust relationships. Little can be accomplished here without first gaining the trust and support of local leaders and former and current elected officials. The LTCR team attained this trust soon after the Governor’s initial scoping meeting on November 2, 2005, when the parish granted access to local expertise and resources that would have been difficult to attain without their support and buy-in. The Vermilion Parish LTCR team achieved a high degree of investment in the community planning process through meetings with local leaders and citizens, attendance and presentations at civic meetings, informal contacts with many parish residents, and well-attended community planning sessions. A high degree of leadership and public support for our projects is anticipated, and it is expected that an established constituency will carry forward the plan upon its final submission.
- police jury
- road superintendent
- parish attorney
- director of public works
- director of Office of Emergency Preparedness
- tax assessor
- contract engineer
- mayor, assistant
- city clerk
Public Service Agencies
- drainage board districts
- Louisiana Planning and Development District
- Twin Ports Commission
- Abbeville Harbor & Terminal District – Port of Vermilion
- Twin Port Authority Delcambre.
Local planning groups and recovery groups
- Delcambre Housing Authority
- Kaplan Housing Authority
- Louisiana Recovery Authority
- Vermilion Long Term Recovery Coalition
- Vermilion Faith Community of Care
State and local non-profits and community groups
- Council on Aging
- Saint Anne’s Catholic Church, Cow Island
- St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
- United Way
Chambers of commerce, other business organizations
- Chamber of Commerce
- Main Street project
- Abbeville Terminal and Harbor District
- Louisiana Elastomer (LAEL)
- Riviana Rice
- Vermilion Parish Firefighter’s Association
Lead providers of education, and health and human services
- General hospital
- School board
- Vermilion Corporation (Exxon/Mobil) land manager
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Local Committee / Task Force
Until mid-February 2006, short-term recovery objectives in local municipal and parish governments took precedence over long term recovery objectives. Meetings with John T. Landry (LRA chairman of the transportation and infrastructure committee and Abbeville resident) and Dianne Broussard (Vermilion Parish Clerk of Courts) in conference with the LTCR team began the process of forming a Vermilion Parish citizen’s task force. The task force, tentatively titled, Vermilion Recovery Authority (VRA), will be responsible for championing the plan, presenting it for adoption before local governments, discovering funding, and pushing for project implementation. While the VRA task force itself is volunteer driven, the LRA liaison officer to the VRA is Captain Scott Landry (firstname.lastname@example.org), and administrative assistance is provided by Staff Sergeant Kurt Raeuchle. After March 20, 2006, both Captain Landry and Staff Sergent Raeuchle can be reached at the Vermilion Office of Emergency Preparedness, (337) 898-4308.
At the initial meeting of the VRA on March 14th, leaders for each sector area were determined by group consensus. The VRA chair selected by the assembled participants was Johnny Boudreaux and the vice-chair was Scott Saunier. The sector chair for economic development is Rebecca Shirley. For agriculture, Wayne Mouton will chair. For education, the chair is Paul A. Bourgeois, Jr. For flood protection and coastal restoration, the chair is Judge Edwards III. For transportation and infrastructure, Jay Campbell will chair. Gabriel Matthews will chair the public safety group. No meeting schedule has yet been established by the task VRA as it is still in the process of organizing.
Scoping Meeting (November 2005)
The governor’s initial scoping meeting had little community buy-in from Vermilion Parish leaders. Held in Acadia Parish, far more leaders from Acadia came than Vermilion leaders, and of those Vermilion leaders who did show did not represent the devastated areas of the parish: the unincorporated Les Isles Des Acadiana or the incorporated towns of Erath and Delcambre. As a result of the meeting, ESF-14 member Leslie Meyers moved from Baton Rouge to Vermilion Parish so that through community outreach, she could impress upon locals the importance of meetings like this, and develop a stronger community planning relationship.
Governmental Workshop (December 2005)
Approximately 65 representatives of local government, human services, health & safety, and business came to the workshop and were arbitrarily divided into four working groups. Each group used an LTCR worksheet to focus discussion on local issues, barriers, showstoppers, treasures and partnerships. Once each group finished their worksheet they presented their findings to the other groups. After all groups presented, they discussed among each other what common issues, barriers, showstoppers, treasures and partnerships, they would agree should inform future steps in the planning process.
Louisiana Recovery Planning Day Open House (January 2005)
The open house was attended by 56 Vermilion Parish citizens, one from St. Landry, eight from Lafayette, and one from Acadia. The open house utilized five interactive stations which culminated in a final survey in which participants could voice their thoughts on rebuilding the parish and the state as well. The primary areas of concerns of attendees included the desire to rebuild schools, preparation for and lessening of future disasters, affordable housing, support for recovery by restoring confidence, building better levees, and availability of no-interest loans.
Louisiana Speaks Road Show, Towns of Erath (January 2006), Delcambre (Jan 2006), Abbeville High School (February 2006)
In the Road Show, the same planning process carried out on Planning Day in Abbeville was brought to the devastated communities of Erath and Delcambre and to the students of the Abbeville High School. 16 people participated in the Erath session and 14 in the Delcambre events. At Abbeville High School, 35 students from across the parish shared their input. Additionally, data was collected from Louisiana Speaks storefront walk-ins (12), and by mail (five). As a result of these sessions, the LTCR team was able to determine the issues and their priority in the minds of a wide spectrum of parish residents.
Public Feedback Road Show and Open Houses (3/4- 3/11)--After drafting 39 projects in five sectors (economic development, public safety, coastal restoration and flood protection, transportation and infrastructure, and education), the LTCR team presented their work to Vermilion Parish communities: Delcambre, Pecan Island, Forked Island, Cow Island, Abbeville, and Abbeville High Schools . In total, over 77 citizens scored the projects on a scale of High, Medium, or Low priority and also provided written feedback on the scoring forms. As a result of these meetings, the team was able to determine, the degree of community support in different areas of the parish for the projects, to revise existing projects, and consider new projects.
Assembly of Citizen Leadership Task Force – Vermilion Parish Recovery Authority, March 14, 2006--Significant steps to organize the Vermilion Recovery Authority – the volunteer local citizen task force motivated to take ownership of the LTCR recovery projects – were facilitated through a meeting on March 14th, organized by the LTCR team, John T. Landry (chairman of transportation and infrastructure task force, Lousiana Recovery Authority) and Dianne Broussard (Vermilion Parish Clerk of Courts). Over 40 prospective citizen leaders were presented with the team projects in the cafeteria of the Abbeville High School . The prospective leaders were provided with stickers for them to vote and indicate their public interest in working on agriculture, economic development, public safety, coastal restoration and flood protection, transportation and infrastructure, or education. After the presentation, breakout sessions were held in classrooms, where the participants selected committee chairs and began to actively strategize how to move the projects forward after the decommissioning of the LTCR team.
Day-to-day Interaction with Local Decision-makers and the General Public
Members of the Vermilion Parish LTCR team attend every public police jury meeting, every city council meeting and every school board meeting. LTCR members participate actively in meetings when a presentation is necessary to explain the LTCR process or promote an upcoming event such as Planning Day. Meetings by team members are scheduled in advance at a place and time convenient to local leaders and citizens. At times, these are held at the storefront, and every day anywhere from five to ten people walk into the storefront to meet with one of the team’s experts. Advertisements in local print, radio, and television media are used in conjunction with word-of-mouth to promote upcoming events. Local leadership is encouraged through planning processes such as the government workshop, which helps to identify supporters of particular ideas, and through one on-on-one meetings.
View the Parish Summary Page from Louisiana Planning Day (PDF)