“It’s certainly an attempt to protect the city’s interest,” New Orleans city hall spokesman James Ross said of the claim, which is required before any lawsuit can be brought against the corps.
Under the Federal Tort Act, businesses, residents and the city government had until Thursday at midnight to submit claims that would be recognized by the corps.
Since Monday, the corps received a steady flow of New Orleans residents bearing claims, which caused traffic jams and forced the city to reroute busses.
The corps estimated that it would receive 60,000 personal claims by the deadline. Federal law requires claimants to specify damage amounts, so the $77 billion represents an average individual claim at $170,000 for the city’s pre-hurricane population of 455,000, reported CNN.
Businesses, most notably the city’s utility company, Entergy New Orleans, which filed a $655 million claim, have requested the largest amounts of compensation.
“It is incumbent on us to seek every avenue possible to mitigate the cost of the damage caused by the levee failures from burdening our customers,” said Entergy Corp. spokesman Morgan Stewart, according to the Associated Press.
The corps has six months to process and accept, settle, or reject the claims, after which the city will be able to sue the federal government to recoup losses.
New Orleans already has received $1.65 billion in recovery funds, as part of a $6.3 billion package appropriated to Louisiana, according to the Federal Management Agency.