The West Bank has received two major flood risk reduction measures in the past decade: a $4.2 billion investment in levees and hurricane protection structures that provides us with 100-year hurricane protection; and Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS) that in the near future will recognize, for the first time in history, the recently completed 100-year hurricane protection system.
The Jefferson Parish Office of Flood Plain Management has stated that the West Bank of Jefferson Parish has within its levee system more than 22,000 homes and structures that will be moved from the A zone to the X zone. There are almost 15,000 homes and structures where the base flood elevation (BFE) will be lowered. The total of more than 36,000 properties may see reductions in flood insurance premiums paid. The savings to these individual property owners will be substantial, and will be enjoyed annually, as long as our levees remain certified. There are over 1,200 properties that will see no change in either flood zone, or BFE on the new maps. Unfortunately, there are also almost 5,000 West Jefferson properties that will not see a benefit and may see an increase.
The positive benefit to 36,000 properties creates an outstanding ratio of 7.5 to 1 when compared with the properties that may not see a benefit.
We must pay to maintain our levees. We should not pretend that there might be some other federal or state fund for flood protection. There has been no one who has identified any other method of paying for levee maintenance. Our individual homeowner’s savings in annual flood premiums will be more than our cost of the maintenance, and if we ignore the maintenance we risk losing our certification.
Voters of West Jefferson and Algiers will have an opportunity to vote on this millage on Saturday.
Paul H. Flower, Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region Chairman
Susan H. Maclay, Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – West President