39 years later, $95M settlement for flood victims approved
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana families and businesses in Tangipahoa Parish are a step closer to getting paid for flood damages in 1983 caused by the construction of Interstate 12.
A $95 million payment was approved Friday by the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, The Advocate reported. The committee’s action allows the money to be moved to an escrow account, and eventually to the 1,246 victims, 400 families and 96 businesses harmed.
“This is the single final payment that resolves the entirety of the lawsuit,” Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne said.
When those payments will be made is unclear. The state earlier put $6 million into an account for the plaintiffs, which means the total settlement is $101 million, the newspaper reported.
Dardenne said he is confident a district judge will approve the payment, which will then allow a special master to decide how much individuals and businesses are owed.
Rains on April 6, 1983, flooded about 6,000 homes in the Baton Rouge area. In Tangipahoa Parish, east of Baton Rouge, the newly opened I-12 acted like a large levee, and resulted in water from the Tangipahoa River being diverted into homes and businesses.
In 1999, a jury decided that the I-12 bridge over the river did not change elevation crossing the river as it should have and awarded plaintiffs in $92 million. However, nothing happened for years while the state Department of Transportation and Development appealed and the Legislature declined to approve the award.
The final amount was agreed to by lawmakers after negotiations by Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration.