In August 2016, Denham Springs, LA, was faced with an historic tragedy. Heavy rains flooded 90 percent of the homes and business in the city. As the waters receded and people began the long process of recovery, it became clear that, even in the face of this catastrophic event, there was an opportunity not only to rebuild Denham, but to make it stronger and more resilient.
In April 2017, eight months after the flood, Denham Springs began partnering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to implement the National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF). The NDRF empowers local governments to identify and implement community-led, long-term recovery projects that help cities and towns rebuild after disasters by offering insight, support, and resources.
This initiative became Denham Strong. Throughout the Summer of 2017, local elected officials, municipal employees, and volunteers worked together with FEMA to facilitate community-wide meetings to gather input from citizens about what projects would be most beneficial as Denham moved from recovery efforts in the immediate aftermath of the floods towards and more sustainable, resilient community.
The community meetings identified a number of projects that we, as Denham residents, were clamoring for in six broad areas: Community Planning, Economic Development, Housing, Health and Social Service, Infrastructure, and Natural and Cultural Resources. Within these broader areas, residents identified and prioritized specific projects. The efforts of FEMA, the city, volunteers, and residents culminated in a Celebration of Hope to mark the one-year anniversary of the flood and to unveil the projects the community identified as most important.
The work continues, however. As we move from identifying and prioritizing projects, Denham Strong needs continued engagement from all of us in the community to help make sure the projects we identified are completed. Work has already begun on some projects. Others are more long-term projects that will have a profound impact on our city.
Again, Denham Strong is a community-focused initiative and we need the community. Whatever your talents, whatever your skill level, we are all in this together.
It is us, the citizens of Denham Springs, who are the only ones that can ensure the city is and remains #DenhamStrong.