DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (The Livingston Parish News) – In the wake of the Great Flood of 2016, FEMA offered an ‘out,’ so to speak, and Livingston Parish residents are taking it.
In order to reduce the cost burden on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), FEMA determined that elevating homes or acquiring properties in flood risk areas would be more cost-effective for the government than simply paying out another claim and walking away.
Those programs, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) and Flood Mitigation Assistance Program (FMAP), offer homeowners a cost share for elevating their property to above the base flood elevation, or a cash buyout of their property.
The programs have caveats, however. If a home is raised out of the flood plain, it must also meet any freeboard requirements in the area – which, in the case of Livingston Parish, would raise it another foot – and carry flood insurance in perpetuity.
Flood insurance for the property would be rated as ‘out of flood zone.’
If a property is acquired, it is removed from the tax rolls and cannot be used again for development unless approved by congress.
Homes and properties in Denham Springs, Walker, and Livingston Parish have already gone through rounds of funding and been elevated or acquired.
The most recent allocation of FEMA funding would be $2,313,358.38 and would elevate nine parish structures and acquire another six within the Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) of Livingston Parish. The homes are not determined by geographical area as much as economic impact.
Government cost-shares are determined by whether or not the property flooded but once, or is a repetitive loss or severe repetitive loss designation. The cost shares are 75%, 90%, and 100% respectively.
Graves explained that these programs go through the cities of Denham Springs and Walker, as well as the parish, and his team in Washington D.C. helps lobby specific properties through with FEMA. However, he stressed that his work on that end almost always runs through local governments.
“We stay in our lane,” Graves said to the News last Friday. “It’s important to work with state and local officials on these properties to help them navigate the process and get it done.
“Comite (Diversion Canal) is our lane, it’s a totally federal issue.”
According to Graves, his work with the Comite and local work with elevations and acquisitions are all part of the big picture from a drainage perspective, and every piece counts for an improvement for Livingston Parish residents.