FEMA Letters: Livingston Parish Flood Survivors Face a New Problem

Local News

DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (BRPROUD– Five years after the flood of 2016, victims of it are now facing a different problem. People in Livingston Parish are now being told they live in a flood zone — and should either raise or tear down their home through substantial damage letters.

Denham Springs resident Rebecca Williams who is still recovering from the flood of 2016 said it was a nightmare.

Williams said, “All our stuff destroyed our home wasn’t a home anymore.”

William’s daughter and dog, along with others waiting to get picked up by rescued crews during the Flood of 2016.

Now, like many others, she’s having to face this.

She said, “It’s like reopening wounds we were trying too close. It’s frustrating.”

Some who received the letters didn’t own the home when it was flooded.

Denham Springs Resident Lewis Gilbert said, “We were guaranteed by FEMA, by flood insurance, real estate agents, by… you name it that everything was good to go and that there was nothing else to worry about and that it was a thousand-year flood so we should be good. swe all purchased these houses under this understanding.”

Many are asking one simple question: Why now?

Livingston Parish Office of Homeland Security Deputy Director Brandi Janes said, “It should’ve been done in 2016, those that were responsible for it did do some. I mean but most of the parish flooded. Most of the parish flooded. I believe they were just trying to get everyone in their homes as quickly as possible. We were all devastated.”

Homeland Security stepped in for the Livingston Parish government after an audit by FEMA to help gain compliance for the National Insurance Program (NIP). 

Janes said, “Part of our agreement to be in the NIP which gives flood insurance access to all of our residents, the parish needed to do substantial damage determinations.”

The last step was sending out the letters. What do they mean?

She explained, “From this point forward, we are not going to undo anything that anyone’s done so far, but moving forward if they need to get a permit for construction or whether they flood again or need repairs or major renovations. You can’t get a permit until they mitigate or show intent.”

They also provided resources for mitigation.

“It also tells them what their grant options are and what their insurance options are,” said Janes

Gilbert said, “I really think the time right now is for action. taking advantage of the resources the parish has to offer.”

The Office of Homeland Security did mention on Facebook that they will be holding at own hall meeting about these letters on Monday. If you would like to attend the meeting, it will be located at the Livingston Parish Council Chambers on May 3rd at 4 pm.

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