New Orleans, La - It's a chance to learn about your risk of flooding and then do something about it. That's what FEMA officials are saying about a series of open houses featuring the updated proposed Region 6 Flood Maps.
The open house features a room full of maps, numbers, computers and codes. It can appear to be a lot to take in, but local businessman Allison Marshall says getting what he needed was a breeze.
"Every question I was able to ask, they answered it for me, " said Marshall.
He and the rest of Orleans Parish were invited to the FEMA open house Monday to get a look at the newly drafted Flood Risk Information Maps that are set to take effect next year.
Matt Dubois is a FEMA engineer. He says one version of the maps indicates areas where the level of risk has changed.
"The green that you see would be areas of decrease, where the hazard is lower than what was shown on the effective map, and the red would be areas of increase," said Dubois. "Certainly a lot of the green area which is the decreased area, a lot of that can be attributed to improvements that have been made with the pump stations and canal improvements and the hurricane system itself."
Areas in green could see a drop in flood insurance rates. The opposite could be true for those areas in red.
Dubois says the maps are more than just about insurance rates. "With that knowledge, then they can make those informed decisions on what to do next," he said. "Do they need to look into elevating their structure? Do they need to increase their flood insurance? Do they need to buy flood insurance where they didn't have flood insurance before?"
New proposed maps are now available for Orleans, Jefferson, St. Charles, St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes.
"Quite a few of the areas, the five parishes that we spoke about have been impacted by the new hurricane and storm damage reduction system," said Jacqueline Chandler with FEMA. "So with that new levee system, you can see some changes to the flood zone and even base flood elevations, but they do vary area by area and homeowner buy homeowner."
Each property owner is invited to attend one of six scheduled open houses and learn what the proposed maps mean for a specific address. "I should be better for me," said Allison Marshall. His home is in the green area. "I learned that where my house is located right now, there's a good chance in the next 18 months my insurance will go down."