Flood zone changes pepper the map, but the most significant difference is in the eastern part of the parish, south of Duson. What was once nearly a solid flood zone bordering Vermilion Parish has largely been removed from the flood plain. The entire town of Duson has been removed from the flood zone, which should lower residents' insurance rates. Duson Mayor John Lagneaux wants to make sure the maps are correct. "Don't get me wrong, we're glad, it will save on insurance," he says. "But there are some areas that we know of that need to be in the flood zone; we plan to shoot elevations, get with the people who work with the [Army Corps of Engineers] and make sure. If you live in a low-lying area, it needs to be a flood zone. If we're going to do it, we need to do it right."
Youngsville Mayor Wilson Viator has the draft map pinned to his meeting room wall. Last week, he studied the map and pointed out several changes to his town. "The intersection of Verot School Road and Hwy. 92 is more in the flood zone," he says. "But the map takes the heart of Youngsville out. Toward the east, and toward Le Triomphe, especially along Lasalle Coulee we're seeing increased areas in the flood zone."
Broussard Mayor Charles Langlinais is concerned that the new flood zones will stunt the booming growth of his town as development marches down Hwy. 90. Langlinais intends to challenge the map during the window of response time allowed by the Corps, which performed the studies for the FEMA map. He also wants to be proactive and alleviate flooding in newly identified zones before it happens. "What I want to do is go to my council, and if we can change out the pipes under bridges and road crossings where there are bottlenecks and get the water moving faster, then we can fix the flooding and get out of the flood zone," he says. "Anybody that's in an area like that I would advise them to buy flood insurance. But we can minimize the impact in how much insurance they will have to buy. I warned that there would be people in flood zones, but I was a little shocked about all the yellow in south Broussard."
Changes in flood zones will be reflected in homeowners' flood insurance premiums. According to Knox Insurance account manager Brenda Ortego, homeowners who live in non-flood zones are eligible for preferred programs that carry much lower rates. And the flood zones have different rates. "The higher the risk for flooding, the higher the premiums go up," says Ortego.
In conjunction with the maps is a comprehensive drainage study, the result of an intergovernmental request to the Corps in 2005 from Lafayette Consolidated Government, the Bayou Vermilion District and the five municipalities in Lafayette Parish: Broussard, Carencro, Duson, Scott and Youngsville. Lafayette experienced flood events in 1980, '89, '91, '92 and most significantly in January 1993. "We were trying to look at the high water marks and figure out what actually happened," says LCG Public Works chief Tom Carroll. LCG contracted jointly with the Corps and FEMA to develop the study for the Lafayette In a Century Drainage and Stormwater Plan. The Corps was commissioned to provide the field data, which was then incorporated into the flood maps. The draft FEMA maps were unveiled March 23 at a meeting of the Committee of Governmental Officials in Youngsville.
Carroll warns that the current versions of the maps are preliminary drafts for government officials to check before they are released for public comment on May 31. (The comment period is one year, through May 2007.) But Viator says he was informed at the March 23 meeting that the maps are 95 percent complete.
The old 1996 maps were based on USGS maps from the 1940s, with contour lines figured at 5-foot intervals. FEMA's new maps were made by flying over the parish, using Light Detection and Ranging Scanning. The rapidly emerging technology is highly accurate for determining the shape of the ground surface plus natural and man-made features. "We're really excited about their accuracy," Carroll says. Lafayette is only the second parish surveyed by LIDAR (Orleans was the first), and the technology will provide a benchmark for maps in the future.
Software for determining potential changes made to watersheds is part of the drainage and storm water package that will accompany the map. "We will have the information for modeling hydrologics," Carroll says. "We can see the overall impacts of any development. Right now we don't have good models of our channels. It will provide tremendous information for the local engineers. It takes out the guesswork. No more confrontations with developers." LCG Planning Director Mike Hollier says the parish will also use the plan to simulate recent flooding in Broussard and Carencro. "We're going to simulate those rainfall events in different parts of the parish and see what might happen on top of downtown Lafayette, or Scott. That's the great part of the drainage plan. If you make improvements you might be able to take areas out of the flood zone."
The biggest change under Carroll's jurisdiction comes in the Coulee Ile des Cannes area, where flood zones increased. "We're going to have to look at that one closely," he says. "The improvements made from the Vermilion River to Ridge Road have made a tremendous difference in flooding in that area. We'll address that during the comment period."
Youngsville Mayor Wilson Viator says the maps will increase government efficiency and guide future development. "It will save Youngsville money because my town engineer won't have to go shoot as many elevations," he says. "It will make it much simpler to tell developers what they have to do." Like Broussard, the town of Youngsville has also witnessed extraordinary expansion recently, and with it growing pains from increased traffic as well as a need for complex drainage studies as low-lying farmland is transformed into subdivisions.
Viator adds that whether homeowners are located in or out of the flood zone, he still suggests residents of Youngsville buy some flood insurance. With the damage hurricanes Katrina and Rita have done to the wetlands and the subsidence of Louisiana's coastal plains, there's a greater potential for flooding. "If we get a storm surge, we have a good chance of getting water in Youngsville," he says. "I just bought flood insurance. I'm not in the flood zone, but I'm not taking a chance. If you have flood insurance, you can sleep good at night."
The circumstances surrounding the death last March while in the backseat of a sheriff’s cruiser of Victor White III, long a source of dispute by White’s family, have earned an investigation by federal officials.
With six of the LPSB’s nine members poised for Pat Cooper’s termination, a request was filed Tuesday for a fast-tracked hearing on the federal lawsuit calling for the disqualification of two board members from voting on the matter due to bias.
Louisiana's Republican Party has filed a complaint against Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu with the Senate's ethics committee about her use of private chartered planes.
An attorney signs up to run against LPSB's Mark Cockerham, and within a week a lawsuit is filed by a former LPSS employee in an attempt to disqualify him. Coincidence?
The Ragin’ Cajuns got off to a superb start Saturday night, and the Human Jukebox made the soaked season opener even sweeter for the third-largest crowd in Cajun Field history.
The Louisiana health department will follow a federal judge's order and refrain from immediately penalizing doctors who are trying to comply with a new abortion law that requires them to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital, a spokeswoman said Monday.
While bogged down with qualifying candidates last month, Secretary of State Tom Schedler didn’t lose sight of the true endgame coming in November and December.
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Stoned driving a concern when pot is legal; Detroit's bankruptcy trial; speed trap scandal in Florida and more national and international news for Tuesday, September 02, 2014.
A federal jury found attorney Daniel Stanford guilty Friday afternoon on eight of 13 counts for his role in the Curious Goods conspiracy.
Lafayette City-Court Judge Francie Bouillion has served on the bench for two decades since winning a special election to replace Judge Kaliste Saloom when he retired in 1994.
The magazine's senior football writer also predicts a break-out year for Saints fourth-year running back Mark Ingram.
Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh rested his regulars and watched with delight as Ray Rice's backups ground out 214 yards rushing in a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is set to put the kibosh on the legal ownership of monkeys trained to help the disabled, and the agency wants to know what you think.
A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
An abortion rights organization wants a federal judge to block enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law while its lawsuit to overturn the law makes its way through court.
Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
The attention surrounding Victor White III has spiked with the release of last week’s autopsy report, which has raised a number of serious questions about the night of his death and has put the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office under an increased wave of scrutiny as more national media outlets are jumping on the story, most recently seen on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Authorities are investigating a report that a student there warned the principal of impending violence similar to that depicted in the movie "The Purge."