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Louisiana parishes face some of highest flood risk of any U.S. counties, new study says | Lake Charles News – New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana 2021-10-18 05:00:00 –

Not surprising for anyone involved in a sudden downpour in New Orleans, Lake Charles, or many other points in between.

A new analysis that presents national flood risk puts the Parish pillars of Louisiana at the top of the list, highlighting issues that are expected to worsen as climate change accelerates. State officials say the study is further evidence of the need for flood mitigation and coastal conservation projects, but as always, funding them continues to be difficult.

You don’t even need to be close to a hurricane to cause catastrophic floods in the former swamps that make up southern Louisiana. A new study by the New York-based First Street Foundation reveals long-known knowledge of state residents and local government officials. experience.

The Louisiana Parish fills the top four spots in the most endangered counties across the country, with eight in the top 20. Diocese of Cameron is number one, followed by Orleans. Others include Jefferson, St. Bernard, Plaquemins, Terbonne, St. Charles, and Baptist St. John.

This study aims to provide a comprehensive view of flood risk from all types of events, from storm surges to heavy rains. The calculation includes the possibility of what is called a 500-year flood. This can occur with a 1 in 500 chance (0.2%) in any year. Many public infrastructures, including the embankment system that protects New Orleans, are built on 100-year flood standards, which is inadequate given the increasing intensity of storms as a result of climate change. Some experts say there is.

Risks fall into five categories: housing, roads, commerce, infrastructure, and society.

By city, Metairie is number one and New Orleans is number two. As an example, the severity of the risk varies greatly and the elevation of the home itself varies, but it is said that 100% of both homes have some risk. -Often built on a pier a few feet off the ground-is not taken into account. In terms of infrastructure, research shows that 100% in Metairie and 94.5% in New Orleans are at some risk.

Lake Charles is the only other city in Louisiana’s Top 20 and 17th place. According to the survey, 39.6% of residential structures are at risk and 52.8% of infrastructure is at risk.

The study also assesses the largest increase in risk nationwide, looking 30 years into the future. The three coastal parishes of Louisiana (St. Mary, Vermilion, and Iberia) are among the top 20 because of their projected sea level rise. In parishes like Orleans and Cameron, the risk levels are already so high that there will be no significant increase in risk over the next few decades.

“Our main goal, as people know, was to raise awareness about the infrastructure at stake in these communities,” said Jeremy Porter, Head of Research and Development on First Street. Says. “For example, if your house is 20 feet taller, you’ve remodeled it to fit your area. Power plants, police stations, and fire departments may still be at risk.”

“We advocate the use of appropriate flood and risk tools to understand the risks.”

“Valuable funds”

Hurricane Aida clearly demonstrated the difficulty of protecting the Luiziana coast from floods. While the post-Katrina embankment system surrounding New Orleans was maintained, the rest of the community was severely flooded in certain cases.

A few weeks after Hurricane Aida, Louisiana launches a $ 23 million travel trailer program in the Bayeux region

In Laplace and Jean Lafitte, houses were flooded and residents had to be rescued by boat. Plans to build an embankment system to protect LaPlace from high tides from Lake Pontchartrain have been in place for a long time, but due to the delay in obtaining federal funding, it will take years to complete.

However, while hurricanes pose an obvious risk, heavy rains can also expose the region’s vulnerabilities. Lake Charles recovered from the devastating effects of Hurricane Laura and Delta last year, but in May heavy rains rushed over several hours, overwhelming drainage systems, stalling residents and hundreds of homes. And damaged the company. Recently repaired. Another example was the catastrophic flooding of the entire metropolitan area in 2016.

State officials say they are already using a model similar to that adopted by First Street in planning and prioritizing flood mitigation projects, but further to Louisiana, especially through the Louisiana Basin Initiative and the Coastal Conservation and Restoration Agency. Focuses on details.

The CPRA Coastal Master Plan, updated every six years, outlines how the state spends $ 50 billion over 50 years on embankments and flood control structures, coastline protection and coastal restoration. Such plans have positioned the state as a leader in seeking to tackle land loss and flood protection as most of Louisiana is eroded and flooded into the bay at shocking rates.

Once a week, we will send you the top stories found in the lake area

But whether that’s enough as the storms intensify and sea levels rise, and whether it can all be funded, is another matter.

“Given that having that single vision for our shores looks ahead to BP’s oil spill, past storms we had to deal with, and now recovery from hurricane Ida. It was very, very informative, “said Bren, Executive Director of CPRA. Hase. “The federal government is investing in infrastructure and restoration not only here in South Louisiana, but across the country, so I think we are in a good position to make a very very good case. Is right and worth the funding. “

The state basin initiative seeks to improve the way Louisiana addresses flood risk by addressing issues from the perspective of the entire basin, not the city or parish. We divided the state into eight watershed areas and prioritized projects under a scoring system.

Already selected over $ 400 million in projects, Pat Forbes, who plays a key role in overseeing the initiative as head of the state’s Community Development Department, said. They ranged from the Sliderling embankment in the east to the improvement of drainage channels in the Ascension Parish.

“The watershed initiative isn’t just about spending $ 1.2 billion sent to us for mitigation (US Department of Housing and Urban Development),” Forbes said. “It’s about changing the way we manage flood risk.”

An important aspect of this is “to deal with floods in the basin, not within the jurisdiction. Cameron, Calcashu, and Sabine Diocese all share a common basin, so they all share a common flood risk. I’m doing it, “he said.

Voluntary acquisition

Another problem facing the state, which can become more important as sea levels rise, is the voluntary acquisition of residents rather than continuing to spend the money needed to protect particularly vulnerable communities. It’s time to stay away from harm.

“Some of this population will never come back”: Six weeks after Aida, the Bayeux region faces a housing crisis

For example, in the lowland Cameron Parish, hurricanes and storm surges have hit in recent years, causing the population to plummet to about 5,600. Some predict that the parish could disappear significantly by the end of the century if sea levels rise dramatically as expected.

The Watershed Initiative has already offered voluntary acquisitions in seven locations, including one in the Lake Charles district, which has been flooded three times in four years. Houses purchased there need to be permanently open space with the idea of ​​improving drainage for the remaining people.

For the First Street survey, Forbes and Haas said they could provide useful tools to the population.Of the organization Flood Factors Website Allows searches by address and offers the risk of flooding certain properties.

When I plug in the address of the New Orleans Town Hall, it says, “Within the next 15 years, this property has a 12% chance of reaching the building at least once with a 1-inch flood.” It gives it a 4/10 medium “flood factor”.

Jordan Fishbach, head of planning and policy research at the Gulf Nonprofit Institute, who also participated in the development of the state’s coastal master plan, strives to move away from flood risk efforts primarily after a disaster. Has been done.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill currently under discussion in Congress includes money intended to be used to increase resilience to avoid recurring disasters.

“It’s true that most of the money that flows to infrastructure investments and communities at risk of floods and other hazards comes during the recovery phase after a storm,” he said.

“It has been a lot of focus. Basically, the process is inefficient and often all you have to do is rebuild what was there. Or necessarily take the opportunity to mitigate risk or be more resilient to future events. “

Louisiana parishes face some of highest flood risk of any U.S. counties, new study says | Lake Charles News Source link Louisiana parishes face some of highest flood risk of any U.S. counties, new study says | Lake Charles News

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