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."
OK, so they’re bentgrass, the type used on golf course greens. But grass is grass.
The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill Wednesday, despite opponents who argued it would shut down the storefront lenders.
A measure to allow the state to implement its own, less stringent plan for limiting carbon dioxide emissions unanimously passed the Senate.
FDA to regulate e-cigarettes, Jodie Foster gets married, Vermont to require labels on genetically-modified food, and more news for today, April 24, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.
State Rep. Stuart Bishop says he’s concerned with the quality of Capitol Lake, but when it comes to Louisiana’s coastline, this Lafayette Republican doesn't seem to give a damn.
Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.
Louisiana lawmakers are entering the second half of their three-month regular legislative session, which must end by June 2. Where some of the major issues stand: