Congressman Graves urges Corps to ramp up Blue Roof Program efforts

A recently installed blue roof in Houma, LA. (US Army photo by Bri Sanchez, US Army Corps of Engineers)

This week, U.S. Congresswoman Garret Graves and the Louisiana Congressional Delegation sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging them to expedite the completion of the Blue Roof program.

The mission of the Blue Roof program is to provide homeowners and permanent rental properties in disaster areas with fiber reinforced sheeting to cover their damaged roofs until arrangements can be made for permanent repairs.

“The Blue Roof program is going way too slowly. With tens of thousands of roofs damaged in southern Louisiana during the storm season, the force needs to make sure these homes are protected or the damage will worsen,” Graves said.

St. Charles Parish President Matthew Jewell has expressed his own dismay at the matter via his Facebook page.

“I agree with Congressman Graves. The Blue Roof program is taking way too long,” Jewell wrote. “4,667 residents of St. Charles Parish have applied for blue roofs, 294 have been sent to the contractor and only 20 have been installed. It’s time to cut red tape and get more boots on the ground.”

Earlier this month, Graves and other congressmen asked FEMA to work with the US Army Corps of Engineers to reassess eligibility for certain parishes for the Blue Roof program due to significant damage from Hurricane Ida. Subsequently, 10 additional parishes were added to the program.

Graves’ letter reads:

Dear Lieutenant General Spellmon:

While we express our appreciation for the management of the Operation Blue Roof program by the US Army Corps of Engineers, we are writing today with concern about the current operational condition. Our constituents have mentioned supply and access issues, including in rural areas of Southeast Louisiana. We encourage the Corps to use all available resources to ensure that this program is implemented in all affected parishes as soon as possible.

As you know, Hurricane Ida devastated Louisiana with winds exceeding 240 miles per hour. This hurricane caused extreme damage to homes in South Louisiana. Many homeowners rely on the Blue Roof program to protect their homes while they wait for permanent repairs. Unfortunately, we hear that many voters have struggled to use this program in a timely manner. During the peak of hurricane season, it is imperative that homeowners have access to this program as quickly and easily as possible.

We understand that as of September 22, more than 62,358 individuals signed up for the Blue Roof program and 3,743 installations were completed. We also understand that the force is ramping up capacity to perform nearly 600 installations per day. While we appreciate the accelerated speed under this advance, at that rate it would take approximately 98 days to complete installation for every applicant under the Blue Roof program. This time frame is unacceptable and will lead to additional damage to homes while leaving people’s roofs exposed to the elements.

Our constituents are recovering from a life-changing event and this program is critical to the recovery. We urge the Corps to expand capacity for these projects with as many contractors as necessary to complete the installation at an accelerated pace. We’d like to be kept informed of all the steps you are taking to speed up installation and what you are doing to make it as easy as possible for hurricane survivors to enroll in the program. Finally, we ask for regular reports, broken down by parish, on the number of persons served each day.

We appreciate all you are doing to help Louisiana recover from this historic disaster and look forward to your response.

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