By Kate Stevens
Special to The Advocate
September 22, 2012
VACHERIE — The St. James Parish Council approved an emergency bid for aerial mosquito spraying after Hurricane Isaac’s standing water coupled with post-storm rainfall helped the annoying insects to multiply over a 72-square-mile area.
The Parish Council selected Clark Environmental Mosquito Management Inc., of Roselle, Ill., to spray 33,185 acres with pesticide to kill adult mosquitoes, according to parish emergency bid documents.
The company will charge $62,387 for the job, the bid documents state.
Eric Deroche, parish director of emergency preparedness, said during Wednesday’s Parish Council meeting that traps placed around the parish show a higher number of mosquitoes than before the storm but that none of the insects have tested positive for the West Nile virus.
Earlier this summer, at least five mosquitoes in the parish did test positive for the virus, prompting parish officials to question whether the government should conduct aerial spraying.
The emergency bid resolution, approved by Councilmen Alvin St. Pierre, Jason Amato, Terry McCreary, Charles Ketchens, Ken Brass and Jimmy Brazan, says aerial application of pesticide will help reduce the number of mosquitoes, “thereby preventing the spread of the West Nile virus.”
Deroche said the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a verbal agreement to pay 75 percent of the $62,387 aerial spraying fee, but he wants FEMA to put it in writing.
“It looks very, very, very good we will get the approval in writing,” Deroche said.
Whether or not FEMA helps to defray the cost, Deroche said, the parish will proceed with the spraying anyway and pay for it with funds already on hand.
Deroche said a time for the spraying to start had not been set, but that once it begins, it would take only 40 minutes for the two planes to complete the job.
The planes would begin spraying at dusk on the chosen evening, he said.
Francis Hymel, assistant director of parish emergency preparedness, said officials will count the number of mosquitoes trapped five days after the spraying to determine if another round of spraying is necessary.
Other business considered by the council included:
DETENTION CENTER: The council set a public hearing on a proposed ordinance raising the St. James Parish Youth Detention Center’s residential fee from $130 to $230 per occupant per day to cover the increasing costs of housing youths in the facility.
A public hearing on the measure will be held at the parish government complex in Convent at 6:15 p.m. Oct. 3.