Pair of La. Parishes Receive Base Flood Elevation Maps During Rebuilding

February 13, 2006

To help Louisiana coastal communities make prudent rebuilding decisions during the hurricanes Katrina and Rita recovery process, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is releasing additional flood recovery guidance for Iberia and Vermilion parishes.

This guidance is a follow-up to the flood recovery guidance documents released on Dec. 1, 2005, and provides these parishes with maps that depicts the Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE). Parishes can then use these documents to make better decisions on rebuilding their storm-ravaged communities.

The ABFE maps are available online at This Web site should be monitored for future flood recovery guidance updates and information.

In addition, this mapping will provide local governments with information regarding:

* Hurricane Katrina inundation limits;
* High water marks;
* Advisory base flood elevation zones;
* The limit of the advisory base flood elevation zones;
* Updated coastal high hazard (v zone) limits.

This mapping should be used in conjunction with the Flood Recovery Guidance documents previously released to assure that the recovery and rebuilding effort is conducted in a manner to reduce potential for future losses.

“Our goal is to help states and local communities make the best decisions as the reconstruction progress continues in these communities,” said Frank Pagano, FEMA’s director of the flood insurance and mitigation division for Region VI. “This guidance provides communities the specific information they need to make better-informed decisions on how high water might rise during floods — and at what height buildings should be constructed.”

After hurricanes Katrina and Rita, FEMA assessed its existing flood risk data and found that information needed to be updated. ABFE maps take into account data used in the development of the flood advisory documents released on Dec. 1, 2005 (e.g. storm data from the past 35 years, including major hurricanes like Camille, Georges, Katrina and Rita, as well as coastal land loss, degradation of coastal barriers and subsidence, or sinking land).

ABFE maps show areas that have a one percent annual flood risk and update levels at which water could rise, given that one percent chance event. The one percent annual chance flood elevation represents a flood that has a one percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. The one percent annual chance flood is used as the standard for setting premium rates and requirements for the National Flood Insurance Program.

“FEMA strongly recommends that communities build higher and stronger to reduce vulnerability from flooding during future hurricanes,” said David Maurstad, FEMA’s acting director of mitigation and acting federal flood insurance administrator. “FEMA provides this kind of advisory information to local governments — but ultimately it is state and local officials, working with their citizens, who make final decisions on land use and other building code requirements.”

Given the complexities of assessing flood risk behind and near levees, additional work is under way to produce similar guidance for levee-protected areas. FEMA is coordinating with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force to develop additional flood recovery guidance documents and ABFE maps for those areas.

The ABFE maps were created to provide communities with more accurate and up-to-date flood hazard data. The maps serve to assist state and local officials and those rebuilding in making decisions on how to reconstruct to help minimize vulnerability to future flood events.

These maps are being released for advisory purposes, and will not increase flood insurance premiums or flood insurance requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program.

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