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Rebuilding May Overtake Elevation

Wednesday July 12, 2017 12:46 pm

Terrebonne Parish has been a leader in the elevation of structures to reduce flood risk.  Recently, federal legislation has encouraged the structures to be demolished and rebuilt instead, particularly when it is cheaper.  Terrebonne Parish is reaching out to people who are funded for elevation who have not moved forward to see if they would move forward if a new house was an option.  Not everyone will be able to take advantage of this option as both the State and FEMA have to agree to change from elevation to a reconstruction.  For example, properties will not be allowed to be demolished and reconstructed in the V Zone. 

Reconstruction can have several benefits for the program and for the participants.  Slab houses are heavy to lift, and need to be stabilized to hold that weight.  A slab separation can replace the slab with a wood floor that is lighter to raise, but most people only like to use this method right after a storm as cabinets and walls need to be either taken out and reinstalled or cut and repaired.  A demolition reconstruction results  in a new structure that is built for the flood, wind and all new codes; all untouched by floodwater.  People with a large family house might downsize to something more manageable in their retirement.  Someone with a cracked slab might start over with a new structure and not worry about latent damage from multiple storms.  It may be less expensive to build a new home than to elevate a large, heavy structure.  Cost effectiveness will be key to whether this method is considered reasonable by the State and Federal grant programs.  Adequate funding is always an issue as well. 

Currently, 120 people are funded for elevation that have not moved forward for various reasons.  Federal funding often requires that the homeowner pay 25% of the total project cost.  That can be as much as $50,000 considering the size of the structures that are being lifted, and the height of the lift.  Some people have access to insurance benefits called Increased Cost of Compliance which can provide up to $30,000 of that match.  This process sometimes makes it unclear if people will actually receive the benefit as our major storms were in 2008, nearly a decade ago.  It is the Parish’s intention to elevate or otherwise reduce the risk to as many people, homes and businesses as we can afford with the grant funds that we have or can earn in the future.  If you are funded and have not moved forward, or have flooded repeatedly, call 873-6565 for more information or to fill out a letter of interest in elevation or demolishing the flood prone structure and rebuilding.