New Flood Maps for NOLA. Familar headaches for the slabbed

I’ve been keeping one eye on the evolution of the new flood maps for the New Orleans area since their release in February. Complicating matters are ongoiong flood control projects which make City approval of the maps anytime soon unlikely. And once again we see the tug war between wind mitigation and flood mitigation. David Hammer filed the story for the Times Picayune: (h/t Mr CLS)

Earthea Nance of the city’s Office of Homeland Security said the maps are getting more outdated each day. In the two years since the snapshot, new and rebuilt flood protection has further reduced most homeowners’ risks. And two years from now, the Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to finish building and restoring levees, floodwalls and pumps designed to protect most of the city from a so-called 100-year storm — a storm with a 1 percent chance of happening in a given year.

For some, particularly in neighborhoods such as Lakeview, the maps show their risk has abated and if the city would adopt the FEMA maps, huge savings on flood-insurance premiums would follow. But those residents will have to wait. The City Council didn’t want to adopt the maps and force others in areas where flood risk has increased, like the Lower 9th Ward and parts of Gentilly, to elevate now when adequate protection should be in place in a couple of years.

FEMA’s top official for flood insurance, Mike Hunnicutt, said the city can’t adopt parts of the map and not others. But he hoped homeowners would educate themselves about the new maps and keep them in the discussion.

“This helps constituents get word to council members to not forget about these maps,” he said.

Kerrie Slaton found the information session an affirmation of her decision to elevate. She sat down with Larry Fordham, a federal flood insurance specialist who used to work for AllState Insurance, to talk about her home in Lakeview. She learned that because she made improvements to her home after the storm, she needs more flood insurance coverage. But because she elevated the house, her premiums should hold steady.

And she should be able to save some money once the city adopts new flood-risk maps…….

But for others who haven’t elevated yet, the uncertainty is nerve-wracking, and each person has a different threshold for risk. Gloria Serafin’s Lakeview home was 18 inches off the ground during Katrina and took on nearly 6 feet of water. She isn’t forced by building codes or flood insurance rules to elevate, but she wants to.

“It would take a special kind of stupid not to elevate it to at least where the water came in,” she said.

And yet, a few months ago, AllState, her homeowners insurance carrier for the past two decades, told her it wouldn’t cover her if she raised the house more than 4 feet.

“My house is just days away from being complete, but now I’m asking myself, ‘Why stay?’ ” said a flustered Serafin.

You aren’t the only person asking that question Ms Serafin.


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