State officials have selected Baton Rouge-based CSRS Inc. to design a new community for residents of Isle de Jean Charles, who last year became the first “climate refugees” in the U.S.
The firm won the contract for the Isle de Jean Charles Resettlement Project, which will relocate the community’s residents as part of a federally-funded program to resettle residents severely impacted by climate change. Residents will move from their island community in coastal Terrebone Parish to a “resilient” community 40 miles north, the state Office of Community Development says in a news release.
Isle de Jean Charles is facing coastal land loss, rising seas and an increasingly high flood risk.
Officials hope the resettlement project will serve as a prototype for other communities that may have to relocate in the future. The state last year received $48 million from the federal government to pay for the resettlement project. Another $44 million is dedicated to resilience projects in six coastal parishes.
“CSRS has demonstrated a firm understanding of how to address the residents’ employment, education, training, programming and community dynamics, in addition to housing design and homeownership models,” says Mathew Sanders, OCD resilience policy and program administrator. “And equally important, CSRS grasps the need to take into consideration the tribal history of the residents of Isle de Jean Charles, many of whom are American Indians, in a manner that is culturally appropriate.”