FEMA to Pilot New Flood Map Procedure in Five La. Parishes

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 The Federal Emergency Man­age­ment Agency (FEMA) has chosen five parishes in Louisiana to be part of a pilot program for new guidelines to determine flood hazards for areas protected by non-accredited levee systems: Plaque­mines, Lafourche, Terre­bonne, St. Tammany and St. Charles parishes. Currently, FEMA gives no credit for levees it has not accredited, completely wiping this protection off the map when assessing a community’s flood risk.

U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., said last week that these parishes have demonstrated the flaws in FEMA’s current mapping procedures and reaffirmed her commitment to getting local communities the credit they deserve for their investments in water infrastructure.

“These communities have made significant investments to protect themselves, but currently aren’t getting any credit from FEMA. For too long, FEMA has failed to recognize the reality on the ground along the coast; the new guidelines for these parishes are an important opportunity to improve FEMA’s understanding of coastal Louisi­ana’s unique topography and conditions. This is a good step in the right direction, but I will not be satisfied until all our coastal communities get the credit they deserve for their levees,” Sen. Landrieu said.

February 2011 Sen. Landrieu and 26 other senators urged FEMA to discontinue its use of a “without levees” policy that wholly discounted local levees in the flood-mapping process. In response to that letter, FEMA acknowledged in March 2011 the shortcomings in its policy and agreed to make changes that would increase the accuracy and reliability of flood maps. In Sen. Landrieu’s fiscal year 2012 and 2013 Homeland Security appropriations bill, she directed FEMA to implement this new approach.