Last Modified: Friday, October 25, 2013 9:01 PM
Calcasieu Parish planning officials have proposed a zoning revision that would require homes built in flood zones to be above the federally assigned Base Flood Elevation in an effort to curb flooding and reduce flood insurance premiums for policyholders.
Pam Mattingly, assistant planning director, told the Police Jury’s Public Works Committee on Thursday that homes built in a flood hazard area would have to be a foot above the highest of four measurements — the Base Flood Elevation set by FEMA; the center line of the roadway; a sewer manhole; or the highest inundation level recorded for the area.
The revised “freeboard” elevation would apply to new construction and “substantial (home) improvements” within all special flood hazard areas and any adjacent properties, she said.
Mattingly said the changes are being proposed because the flood maps adopted by FEMA in 2011 are not as accurate as the information found during a recent parishwide drainage study. Earlier this month, she said flooding occurred in several areas that were not listed as flood zones in the FEMA maps. Nearly half of the parish is in special flood hazard areas, Mattingly said.
“Our maps are (better at) predicting where the flood areas are going to be,” she said. “It will protect our citizens more. Who knows the area better than us, as far as what area floods and how often they flood?”
Building at a higher elevation gives homeowners “substantial flood insurance savings” on the local level, Mattingly said. She said it could soften the blow from the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act that Congress approved last year. The act will increase flood insurance premiums for certain policyholders.
A $200,000 home built according to the Base Flood Elevation would result in an annual flood insurance policy of $1,636, Mattingly said. Homes that are built 1 foot above the BFE would pay $810 annually.
She said building a foot higher costs about $2,500 more based on a 2,000-square-foot home built on a slab.
Mattingly said the ordinance would also help the parish with its community rating system, which gives homeowners discounts on flood insurance premiums.
Mattingly said residents can comment on the ordinance until Nov. 19. The full Police Jury will consider the item at its Nov. 21 meeting.
Residents can email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.