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Risk MAP Success Story: Robust Outreach Leads to Expedited Updates to the Flood Insurance Rate Maps for the New Orleans Area

This page describes the successes that came about from implementing the Risk MAP process in the New Orleans area. It is intended for state and community officials, mitigation and urban planners and other individuals interested in how the Risk MAP program and project cycle can benefit their community in identifying and mitigating flood hazards.

Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Congress tasked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) with constructing the Hurricane Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS) to protect the New Orleans area. The massive project consists of levees, floodwalls, drainage structures, locks, sector gates, and pumping stations, all designed to withstand a 1-percent-annual-chance flood originating from river flow or hurricane surge. Complex hydrologic and hydraulic models were developed to estimate flood flows and flood elevations for 15 areas within the HSDRRS.

In 2011, FEMA collaborated with the USACE and local communities to expedite the production of updated Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and Flood Insurance Study (FIS) reports for St. Charles, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and Orleans Parishes. These five parishes comprise the metropolitan New Orleans area and are directly affected by the HSDRRS.


Continuous collaboration with numerous federal, state, and local stakeholders was achieved through a robust outreach process involving weekly meetings with the USACE and FEMA. In addition, multiple local meetings were held with parish officials, levee districts, and local residents.


The stakeholders were involved throughout the entire mapping process, which allowed them to provide data and review the results along the way. These efforts led to a more comprehensive and detailed evaluation of the area’s flood protection systems that local communities can use in their floodplain management programs and future land planning.

Successful outreach efforts included a variety of status, review, and coordination meetings as well as conference calls that encouraged stakeholder participation in the mapping process. 

Risk MAP Project Phases

This success story is relevant to the Risk MAP project phases listed below:

  • Data and Product Development
  • Distribution of Maps and Data
  • Community Engagement, Outreach, and Education


Relevant Risk MAP Products

  • Flood Insurance Study report
  • Flood Insurance Rate Map