Rockefeller research lab to be rebuilt with FEMA money

Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge Fish Lab complex was destroyed by 2005’s Hurricane Rita.

A Southwest Louisiana research lab destroyed during Hurricane Rita will be rebuilt with federal funds, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced today.

FEMA will invest more than $1 million in the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge Fish Lab and Fish Lab Complex, the agency reported.

The facility is located in the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, located in southeast Cameron and western Vermilion parishes.

Researchers there study alligators, fish, plants and waterfowl populations, FEMA said.

“The Grand Chenier complex plays an integral role in the pioneering research performed at Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge,” said FEMA’s Louisiana Recovery Office Deputy Director of Programs Andre Cadogan. “Through FEMA’s assistance, the state will be able to reverse the damage done by Hurricane Rita and build back this complex in a more resourceful manner.”

Hurricane Rita’s storm surge, high winds and flooding destroyed the refuge’s Grand Chenier biological research complex of buildings, owned by Louisiana Facility Planning and Control and operated by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries.

Rather than rebuild each facility back to its pre-disaster condition, the state decided to pursue a more efficient design, consolidating the buildings and moving them northwest of the original location.

Six of the buildings destroyed by Rita — a fish lab, a fish-lab boat shed, a chemical storage building, an lligator incubator shed, an alligator storage shed and a freezer storage shed — will be consolidated into three new buildings.

The blueprint calls for a 5,460-square-foot fish lab and an alligator incubator shed, both elevated on pilings 13 feet above base flood elevation, as well as a boat shed. An alligator pump house, trappers camp and airstrip destroyed by the 2005 hurricane will not be rebuilt.

To date, FEMA has designated approximately $18.8 million in public-assistance funding for Hurricane Rita-related recovery work at Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge.