HARAHAN, LA (WVUE) - The updated Flood Insurance Rate Map from FEMA is in, and it shows improvements to Jefferson Parish's drainage system are paying off.
"Jefferson Parish has come a long way since Hurricane Katrina, but even further since 1995 whenever we had the large flood that inundated so many areas of the parish," Jefferson Parish Director of Floodplain Management and Hazard Mitigation Michelle Gonzales said.
Flood ratings for 100,000 homes or structures improved with the newly released map.
Improvements to pumping stations and lining canals are credited as the biggest reason for upgrades, according to Gonzales.
"Overall in Jefferson parish, we are going to have a total of 90,000 structures or parcels in a flood zone X which is about half our housing stock and a great benefit for the parish," Gonzales said.
But while most ratings improved, the FEMA map did bring bad news to residents in River Ridge, Harahan and on the west bank.
Flood ratings declined for 12,000 homes or structures in the new map, mainly because drainage projects underway have not been completed.
"We have very similar situation [to the Harahan area] on areas on the west bank...that's taking place in the Maplewood area. Pretty much all of that area has gone to a Zone AE," Gonzales said. "That area has seen repetitive flooding in the past, and the maps kind of reflect that but [FEMA] doesn't see the new drainage project that is under construction right now."
Gonzales said once drainage projects in those areas are finished, the parish will request FEMA to survey the areas again, and she believes the newer map will most likely improve ratings.
"It looks like [the Harahan project] will be sometime in 2017 and that project will be online and functioning. Same thing with most of the project on the west bank. We're looking at late year 2016 or early 2017," Gonzales said.
Jefferson Parish officials anticipate this new map will be adopted in early 2017. Until then, all flood insurance ratings will be based on the effective 1995 flood insurance rating map.