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Elevating Higher to Alleviate Flood Woes in Louisiana Parish


Flood water is no stranger to the residents of Lafitte, an unincorporated community in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.

The parish has pursued multiple mitigation measures to alleviate the emotion and financial hardships caused by flooding, including elevating existing homes, and reconstructing or demolishing damaged homes. Given the fact that Lafitte lies at or below sea level with land prone to subsidence, or sinking, it is becoming increasingly necessary to elevate homes.

“Our parish is subject to flooding from two sources,” said Maggie Tally, Director of Floodplain Management and Hazard Mitigation for the parish. “One source is storm surge from the Gulf of Mexico. The areas outside of the levee system are most susceptible to storm surge. The second source of flooding is flash flooding from heavy rainfall related to tropical storms, hurricanes, and unusual rain events which can affect areas inside the levee system.”

The parish has been hard hit by several storm surges starting with Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.


Residents can apply for an elevation grant through Jefferson Parish’s Office of Floodplain Management and Hazard Mitigation Department if two or more flood claims have been paid on their property. Depending on the integrity of the home, feasibility of elevating and homeowners’ ability to defray their portion of the project cost, reconstruction may be best (reconstruction involves demolishing the existing home and building a new, elevated structure). The requirement for applicants is to create an account in the parish’s application portal, complete the application and submit required documents.

“We received $2.36 million from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to elevate 23 homes following Hurricane Katrina,” said Talley.  “We aggressively tackle our Repetitive Loss list by applying for mitigation dollars annually and through disaster allocations when available.”

According to the National Flood Insurance Program, a repetitive loss structure is an NFIP-insured structure that has had at least two paid flood losses of more than $1,000 each in any 10-year period.

Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Jefferson Parish has 134 reconstructed homes. FEMA’s HMGP Reconstruction Program provides an opportunity for FEMA to work with states and communities to incorporate mitigation directly into the reconstruction process to reduce future loss of life and property.

Reconstructing a house involves a lot of decisions. Households must decide on their floor plan, finishes, and which contractor to use. Finalizing engineering plans and another eight months to build the new house is one instance.

“These were not deterrents,” said Talley. “The elevation projects avoided at least $2.24 million in damages in 2012 during Hurricane Isaac and another $3 million in 2021 during Hurricane Ida. Total losses avoided were estimated to be 2.23 times the total mitigation costs.”   

The following table from the FEMA Hurricane Ida 2021: Jefferson Parish Louisiana fact sheet validated Talley’s claim. In 23 residential elevation projects, funded from several FEMA hazard mitigation grants , a study highlighted the losses avoided due to mitigation investments.

Cost-effectiveness of Elevation Project in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

Mitigated Project CostLosses AvoidedLoss Avoidance Ratio
Hurricane Issac$2,241,1400.95
Hurricane Ida$3,017,8421.28
Combined Cumulative Total$5,258,9832.23

The total cost of the elevation project (above left) was $71,978. Federal funding was $53,983 with a $17,994 global match. When using Global Match, the non-federal cost share does not need to be 25% for each individual project. Instead, the non-federal cost share for all the applicant’s submitted combined projects must equal 25% for the overall disaster. Global Match allows the applicant to utilize any cost share match that exceeds the minimum requirement (referred to as overmatch) from certain sub-awards to alleviate the financial burden on other projects. It also increases flexibility for the application of various cost share methods.

The total project cost for the reconstruction above right amounted to $290,000. Federal funding was $198,158 (includes global match, construction costs and non-construction costs). Non-federal funding was $91,841.25 (includes Increase Cost of Compliance (ICC) funds).

ICC coverage is a part of all standard flood insurance policies and filed separately from a flood claims loss.  If eligible, the policyholder can collect up to $30,000 to help cover the cost of bringing the home or business into compliance with floodplain ordinances.

Jefferson Parish is continuing their flood mitigation efforts by making their flood-prone communities safer and educating residents about the importance of mitigation. By mitigating, they protect property and contents. Elevation projects may allow future floods to flow under their homes, keeping families safe, insurance rates affordable and achieving local code compliance.

Key Takeaways