New base flood elevations awaiting parishes’ approval

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 30, 2006


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – The Federal Emergency Management Agency has issued its Hurricane Katrina Surge Inundation and Advisory Base Flood Elevation Maps for the St. Charles and St. John parishes area.

FEMA made their recommendation to increase the base flood elevations at least one-foot higher than the current elevation requirements last December, in order to minimize flood impacts of the future.

Even though FEMA has recommended the increase, St. John Parish Chief Administrative Officer Natalie Robottom said administration has chosen not to take the recommendations, but will be meeting with Parish Council members individually to discuss future plans for the parish relative to new construction.

After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, FEMA completed an early evaluation of 100-year flood Stillwater Elevations (SWEL), which calculate storm data from the past 35 years, and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The results of the analysis advocate that the SWEL for both parishes are adequate along Lake Pontchartrain and the Gulf of Mexico, but due to land subsidence and the loss of the coastal wetlands over the past 10 to 20 years, higher storm surges and waves can flow further inland than before, according to FEMA.

   The increase in the base flood elevations, as FEMA recommends, would provide extra flood protection to homes and business structures, reduce flooding, and may result in lower flood insurance premiums.

&#8220Our goal is to help states and local communities make the best decision as the reconstruction progress continues in these communities,” said Frank Pagano, FEMA director of the flood insurance and mitigation division for Region VI. &#8220This guidance provides communities the specific information they need to make better informed decisions on how high water might rise during floods, and at what height buildings should be constructed.”