The ARBC serves the Amite River Basin Drainage & Water Conservation District — a multi-parish entity overseeing flood control within Ascension, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, St. Helena, and St. James Parishes. Their mission is to serve as a multi-parish authority to accomplish flood control measures; facilitate cooperation between federal, state, and local governing bodies to foster floodplain management; maintain and operate structures built under the auspices of the commission; and coordinate river management within the basin.
O’Neal has long held a passion for helping vulnerable communities. His work in floodplain management and hazard mitigation situates him precisely at the convergence of the natural and built environments, the balance of which has always been his focus. O’Neal's personal mission began with his mother, who has worked for decades as a Certified Floodplain Manager in the state of Louisiana.
“When I look back at my mother’s career, I’m humbled," he said. "She’s spent her professional life trying to leave the world a little better than she found it. In a sense, I’ve simply adopted her mindset. The balance between our natural and built worlds is where most of my work has been done, which is why serving our community by volunteering in a way that’s similar to where I’ve spent my time in the private sector is something I find really satisfying. We should get involved where policies are made. We should get involved in ways that make a difference in our communities, especially when our skill sets and voices can add value to the conversation.”
In addition to over a decade of work in this arena, O’Neal has always found time to devote to causes that further increase his ability to improve lives and build resilient communities. He has done this through local community involvement and serving on the boards of various industry and floodplain management associations. In mid-2021, O’Neal joined the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association (NHMA) Board of Directors, where he continues to serve. In his new role with the ARBC, O’Neal deepens his commitment to leveraging his expertise for the benefit of Louisiana’s citizens.
“Gary is a unique treasure at Fenstermaker," said Raymond Reaux, P.E., Vice President, Engineering. "He is a relationship connector. Plus, he values public service, which is evident in his prior employment working for GOHSEP and in private consultancy. Gary’s entire nucleus is about helping people, and his value to our organization is extremely evident as we emerge in 2023 with continued opportunities to serve the public.”
“We are extremely proud of Gary’s appointment to the Amite River Basin Commission," said Jeanne Arceneaux Hornsby, M.S., P.E., CFM, Director, Engineering. "His background in floodplain management and hazard mitigation will be instrumental to the board. Involvement in entities such as this is imperative to the future of our state, as it brings a national level of experience to the table for the benefit of our local communities. I am positive that Gary will serve this area well.”