Gulf Coast Towns and Residents Resist a Proposed Expansion of Officially-Designated Flood Zones and Tougher Building Standards

Over the next year or so, new flood maps for Louisiana and Mississippi will be finalized. Once that step is taken, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will have the power to force cities and their residents to rebuild homes in flood zones with more robust foundations or to raise houses higher above the ground. If they do not go along, they could be banned from the federal flood insurance program.

The last significant remapping of flood zones along the Mississippi coast took place in the mid-1980s. Since then, a number of highly destructive storms, including Hurricane Katrina most recently, have forced a substantial expansion of the areas that may be affected.

Many Gulf Coast communities resist, arguing that residents who have already lost their homes to Katrina cannot now afford to rebuild to higher standards. Homeowners insured for flood damage are eligible for extra assistance to meet new FEMA standards. But owners in areas that were not previously designated as a flood zone are not.

Related Links:

Eric Lipton, “Residents Fight U.S. Zoning Shift Along Gulf Coast,” New York Times, 12 December 2005.