Flood Services Louisiana
Flooding Services: House Elevation Contractor Louisiana
Suburban growth into areas with a history of flooding is putting more houses, businesses and lives at risk. Every new road, bridge, levee or other human-made structure further obstructs — and slows — the natural drainage patterns within the Amite River Basin, where the Amite and Comite rivers flow into Lake Pontchartrain. And long-discussed projects intended to mitigate flood damage in and around Baton Rouge remain under-funded and far from finished.
“Damage from these natural disasters is only going to get worse because we’ve overbuilt our capacity to manage existing risks,” said professor Edward Richards, who has written extensively on coastal and floodplain issues as director of the program in law, science and public health at LSU’s Law Center. “Our drainage system is blocked up.”
The Louisiana Flood of 2016 killed 13 people, displaced tens of thousands of others, caused an estimated $8.7 billion in damage and destroyed some 60,000 houses. Gov. John Bel Edwards is requesting $2.8 billion in federal recovery money, and more than 73,000 households across 20 parishes have been approved for Federal Emergency Management Agency aid.
Elevation provides the best protection from flood damage short of relocating the house to an area that is less prone to flooding. Next to demolition and relocation, elevation is the method most favored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for reducing flood damage to a building. New construction in flood-hazard areas must have the lowest floor at or above the level of the base (100-year) flood, called the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) or, the level indicated on flood recovery maps when they have been adopted by the community for regulatory purposes. Nonresidential structures can meet the elevation requirement by dry flood proofing; residential structures do not have this alternative — they must be elevated.
Raising a structure does not remove it from the special flood hazard area; therefore, it does not exempt the owner or the mortgage company from flood-insurance mandates. If the ground level adjacent to the structure has been raised above flood level by importing fill material or altering the terrain, the owner may file for removal of the property from the SFHA. (A survey and certification of compaction are required.) Some Louisiana communities restrict the use of fill; fill may not be used to support an elevated building in V zones.
Elevation is required for buildings that have been substantially damaged and buildings that are being substantially renovated. When a building is substantially improved by addition of a room, the addition, and sometimes the entire structure, must meet current elevation requirements. Substantial means the cost of improvements or repairs, as a percentage of the market value of the structure before improvement or before damage, exceeds some threshold value. The maximum threshold value allowed by FEMA is 50%; in some Louisiana communities local governments have lowered the threshold to 40% or 25%. The local permit office can tell you what the substantial damage threshold is in your community.