Community

Flood Awareness Facts

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Submitted by Kathi Cowen

FLOOD WARNING PROGRAM FOR E.B.R.P. RESIDENTS:

The East Baton Rouge Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness maintains an early Flood Warning Program.  Most of the flooding damage occurs due to backwater flooding along the Amite and Comite Rivers and their tributaries.  With today’s technology, our local weather service can predict most approaching severe storms and the amount of rain that may fall in given areas.  The warning time for flash flooding will be approximately two hours advanced notice, with 24 to 48 hours notice for backwater river flooding.  With this available data, the rise and fall of the local rivers and streams in our community can be predicted.  This information is passed on to the local television and radio stations by the weather service to be made public so that the necessary steps can be taken to protect our properties from flood waters.

In the event of a flood, refer to your local television or radio for emergency broadcasts; or, call E.B.R. Office of Emergency Preparedness at 389-2100.

FLOOD EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBERS:

Local Television Stations:

WBRZ Channel 2                  387-2222

WAFB Channel 9                  383-9999

WVLA Channel 33                 766-3233

All Commercial AM & FM Radio Stations

NOAA Radio KHB46

National Weather Service

(504) 522-7330 or (504) 828-4000

Cable TV Channels 18 & 22

THE FLOOD HAZARD:

In the City of Central, the principle source of flooding is backwater flooding along the Amite and Comite Rivers and their tributaries.  The Comite River is affected by the backwater of the Amite River.  The backwater that affects the Comite River also causes major flooding to its tributaries which are Draughan Creek, Beaver Bayou, Shoe Creek, Blackwater Bayou, Hurricane Creek and lower Cypress Bayou.  The floods that have caused the most damage to homes and property in our area occurred in 1953, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1983 and 1990.  These floods ranged in frequency between a 2% annual chance flood and a 10% annual chance flood.

FLOOD HAZARD DISCLOSURE:

In Accordance with Parish Ordinance 7210, every transferor of land and/or buildings, including real estate agents, real estate brokers, or notaries public, are required to provide a flood hazard disclosure statement to prospective buyers.

FLOOD MAPS AND PUBLICATIONS:

Flood Maps for the City of Central are available for review at the Municipal Service Center which is at the corner of Hooper Rd and Greenwell Springs Rd., and at all of the E.B.R. Parish libraries and the local University libraries.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Insurance Administration (FIA) publications which include information on flood protection methods, flood insurance, and floodplain management are also available at most of these same locations.  Elevations of recently constructed buildings can be obtained at the Permit Office at the address listed above.

FLOOD ZONE DETERMINATION AND CERTIFICATES OF ELEVATION:

Flood Zone Determinations are provided by the Floodplain Manager at the Planning and Zoning Division of Municipal Services.  Certificates of Elevation are provided by Professional Engineers, Professional Land Surveyors or Registered Architects on a fee basis.

FLOOD INSURANCE:

Flood Insurance is highly recommended because a large portion of the City of Central is located in a  FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA).  There are two types of coverage – structural and contents.  Renters may purchase contents only coverage.  Flood Insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  Information about this insurance is available through your local insurance agent.  There is a 30-day waiting period for new coverage to take effect.  So, don’t wait for the next flood to strike before getting the coverage you might need in the event of a catastrophe.

NOTE:  Flood damage is not covered under normal homeowners insurance policies.

WHAT ARE “FREEBOARD” REQUIREMENTS AND WHY ARE THEY NECESSARY?

Freeboard provides a safety factor for greater protection against flash flooding, headwater flooding and backwater flooding.  Freeboard is a factor of safety expressed in feet above a design flood level.  It is intended to compensate for uncertainties in analysis, design and construction so that the property owner can build with confidence knowing that the risk of a flooded structure has been significantly reduced.

WHY IS A “CERTIFICATE OF ELEVATION” AND A PLAN REVIEW PROCESS REQUIRED?

The Certificate of Elevation is a prerequisite to obtaining flood insurance for policy holders in all A flood zones.

This Certificate of Elevation and review program provides consistent regulations to prevent one development from adversely affecting another development.

The Special Flood Hazard (1% Annual Chance Flood) boundaries on FEMA Flood Hazard Maps are approximate.  The Certificate of Elevation determines the flood zone for your property and insures the proper elevation of your building.

Building permit applicants in A flood zones (areas of 1% annual chance flood) receive a significant reduction in their flood insurance rates by elevating their structures to meet the one foot (1’) freeboard requirement.  Building permit applicants in X flood zones (areas outside the 1% annual chance flood) receive a reduction in flood insurance rates since these structures qualify for a preferred risk policy.

FILL RESTRICTION REQUIREMENTS:

In accordance with Section 8:852(6) of our floodplain regulations, there is a conditional restriction on the placement of fill in a floodplain.  While termed “fill restriction” this local ordinance actually serves to restrict the loss of the existing flood storage volume (holding capacity) that exists between natural ground and the potential flood water elevation.

In addition to the restrictions noted above, our building regulations stipulate that no fill may be placed in a manner which will cause a burden or hardship on adjoining properties.

Any illegal filling, dumping or excavation of land or drainage ways should be reported to the Department of Public Works at 262-5000.

HOW DO WE BENEFIT FROM THIS ORDINANCE?

The freeboard requirement & fill restriction requirement entitle our community to receive additional credit in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Community Rating System (CRS) Program.  This program is similar to the one used for fire rating classifications and has been established to classify participating communities to qualify for reduced flood insurance rates.  Communities are rated from Class 1 to Class 10.  The lower the classification, the lower the flood insurance rates for that community.

FEMA                     www.fema.gov

LSU Ag Center     www.louisianafloods.gov

SUBSTANTIAL DAMAGE AND/OR IMPROVEMENT:

The NFIP requires all structures that are determined to be substantially damaged or substantially improved to meet the same construction standards as a new structure.  A structure is considered to be substantially damaged or substantially improved if the cost necessary to repair the structure to its pre-damaged condition is equal to or greater than 40% of the structure’s market value before damages.

In the case of an addition, only the addition must be protected.  In the case of substantial improvement/damage to the original building, the entire building must be protected.  A structure can be substantially damaged by hazards other than flooding, such as fire or tornado.

When elevating or flood-proofing a structure is required, a professional architect, engineer or licensed contractor should be consulted for suggestions as to methods one may utilize.  FEMA provides manuals titled “Manufactured Home Installation in Flood Hazard Areas”, “Retrofitting Flood Prone Residential Structures” (Pub 114) and “Flood Proofing Non-Residential Structures” (Pub 102), which are informative.  Go to www. fema.gov

PROPERTY PROTECTION:

Flood proofing a structure means protecting it from the damage flood waters would cause.  Measures to protect a property from flood damage include elevating, flood proofing, retrofitting, grading, and correcting drainage problems.

DRAINAGE SYSTEM MAINTENANCE: 

Do not dump or throw anything into ditches or streams.  Such actions are a violation of our City Ordinances.  Even grass clippings and small branches can accumulate and plug channels.  A plugged channel will not carry the runoff it was designed to transfer and the water will accumulate elsewhere.  The City has a stream maintenance program to help with major blockages such as downed trees.

Illegal dumping of debris should be reported to Department of Public Works at 262-5000. 

FLOOD SAFETY

In the event of a flood, take all necessary precautions, such as sand bagging your home, turning off all electrical circuits and gas services and elevating furnishings, carpets, appliances and equipment such as washer and driers.  Contact Office of Emergency Preparedness for sandbags and for road closures.

NFIP       www.floodsmart.gov

USGS (River & Stream Conditions) www.usgs.gov

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