Home Elevation (beginning)

This home in Denham Springs was elevated due to a grant.

In the wake of the Great Flood of 2016, FEMA has offered an "out," so to speak.

Or maybe it should be called an "up."

Concern still holds in the minds of homeowners after the Great Flood of 2016. ‘Could that happen again?’ they ask themselves, ‘If it did, I’m still in harm’s way.’

There are grant programs, offered through FEMA, which can help with those fears by moving homes out of the flood plain. Money is distributed through FEMA, but the parish itself will help guide applicants through the process.

Homeowners who have received structural flood damage to their residence may apply for mitigation through the Livingston Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness (LOHSEP) by contacting Sarah Allen at 225-686-3987 or e-mail at sallen@lpgov.com.

The mitigation process through FEMA includes two types - elevation or acquisition. Elevation is a multi-step process that includes engineering and construction to raise your home above base flood elevation. While this version of elevation requires flood insurance to be kept on the property for the rest of its days, it could decrease the cost of that flood insurance.

On the other hand, mitigation can also take the form of acquisition - which means, simply, that the government buys the property, demolishes any structures on it, and reclaims it as green space. The property will never again boast any type of construction or structure.

Cost shares are determined based on such things as your property’s flood history and type of application your property is submitted within. If you do not have available funds for a cost share, you may be eligible for additional assistance, but this is determined on a case by case basis. For example, Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) is up to $30,000 through your flood insurance policy you may be eligible to offset some or all of your elevation cost share.

The parish asks that applicants note that submitting your information does not make you immediately eligible, the initial information submission is for recording purposes only. When an application for the parish becomes available, Mrs. Allen will contact the interested party.

Hazard mitigation grants can take several months or longer to process and the parish recommends that anyone who is interested apply as soon as possible. Also, per program regulations, if you applied through either City of Denham Springs or City of Walker you cannot apply through the Parish. This could result in the removal of your application.

Over $10 million has been approved for home elevation and acquisition between Denham Springs, Walker, and the parish at large. Recently, the parish approved an ordinance for an acquisition project in Watson, and added and addendum to their Thursday, Nov. 7 agenda that would put a home in French Settlement in the program.

The parish has also let for bid six elevation projects in the parish.

Approved money does not mean it is readily available, it still has to pass certain benchmarks. The per-project cost is also variable, depending on the size of the home and scope of work.

There is a potential for these bids to ramp up even further in 2020 and beyond. According to FEMA, the parish should have inspected over 4,000 homes for substantial damage - not just 300. 

While any of those other 3,700 could come back as not 'substantially damaged,' those that do carry the 'damage designation' would be required to elevate to base flood or higher, or mitigate through acquisition - per an ordinance adopted by the parish.

That law, dubbed a 'Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance' (FDPO) by FEMA, is a required adoption to be a participant in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) as a community.

As of September, it was unclear when FEMA would begin their community visits to inspect those other 3,700 homes. A job they intend to do, personally, according to Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Mark Harrell.

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