The Ouachita Parish Police Jury is dedicated to minimizing the loss of life and property that is associated with flooding events. Education and prevention are valuable and proven tools that help communities become resistant to these natural disasters. Ouachita Parish recognizes that its entire community is susceptible to flooding, not just those structures located within Special Flood Hazard Areas. The following information has been provided to help inform property owners located within the SFHA and flood prone areas.
The Ouachita River was responsible for major flooding in the Parish prior to the construction of a floodwall and levee network in 1934. However, portions of the Parish remain subject to backwater flooding from the Ouachita River and its tributaries when discharges into the Ouachita River exceed those used in the design of the existing levee system. Additionally, the Chauvin Bayou and Youngs Bayou floodplains are subject to backwater flooding from Bayou LaFourche.
In December 1982, the Monroe Airport and the University of Louisiana at Monroe weather stations reported 16.07 and 20.66 inches of rainfall, respectively. During the flooding of December 1982 and January 1983, the flood stage of Chauvin Bayou reached 71.75 NGVD at US Route 165. This resulted in President Reagan visiting and subsequently declaring the area a national disaster, which made possible Federal Disaster Assistance.
Flooding occurred in the northern areas of the Parish in April and May of 1991. The 1991 flood was the highest recorded flood. The rainfall that occurred during that flood was near that of a 100-year storm. The Ouachita River reached a record level of 81.92 feet NGVD on May 4, 1991. This record crest followed extensive rainfall in the Ouachita River Basin. The flood stage of Chauvin Bayou reached 73.2 feet at US Route 165.
- Learn the safest route from your home or business to higher, safer ground, and stay tuned to reports of changing flooding conditions.
- If emergency officials tell you to evacuate or leave your home, go immediately to a safe shelter, hotel, or relative’s house.
- Turn off all utilities, gas, and electricity at the main switch. Stay away from power lines and electrical lines. Be alert for gas leaks.
- Do not walk through flowing water. Drowning is the number one cause of flood related deaths. Currents can be deceptive; six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet.
- Do not drive through a flooded area. More people drown in their cars than in any other location. Vehicles also push water into homes to cause additional property damage.
Purchase federal flood insurance. Basic homeowner’s insurance policies don’t cover damage from floods. Ouachita Parish participates in the National Flood Insurance Program. Federally subsidized flood insurance is available to everyone in the Parish. Remember, there is a 30-day waiting period before a policy becomes effective. Some people have purchased flood insurance because it was required by the bank or loan company when they got a mortgage or home improvement loan. Usually these policies just cover the building’s structure and not the contents. During the kind of flooding that happens in Ouachita Parish, there is usually more damage to the furniture and contents than there is to the structure. Remember that a flood insurance policy must be renewed each year.
Mandatory Purchase Requirement: The mandatory purchase of flood insurance requirement applies to all forms of federal or federally related financial assistance for building located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). This requirement affects loans and grants for the purchase, construction, repair, or improvement of any publicly or privately owned buildings in the SFHA, including machinery, equipment, fixtures, and furnishings contained in such buildings. If a building is in a SFHA, the agency or lender is required by law to require the recipient to purchase a flood insurance policy on the building.
For more information about flood insurance contact:
- The Ouachita Parish Library
- Contact your insurance agent
- Contact the Ouachita Parish Building Permit Office at (318) 398-9780.
Rather than wait for a flood to occur, you can act now to protect your property from flood damage. Various alternatives are available to help minimize flooding. If your floor level of your property or structure is lower than the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) located on the Parish’s Flood Insurance Rate Map, consider ways to prevent flooding from occurring such as retrofitting your building. “Retrofitting” means altering your building to eliminate or reduce flood damage.
Retrofitting measures include:
- Elevating the building so that flood waters do not enter or reach any damageable portions of it.
- Constructing barriers out of fill or concrete between the building and flood waters.
- “Dry floodproofing” to make the building walls and floor watertight so water does not enter.
- “Wet floodproofing” to modify the structure and relocate the contents so that when flood waters enter the building there is little or no damage.
- Preventing basement flooding from sewer backup or sump pump failure.
There are several good references on retrofitting in the Ouachita Parish Public Library. Many of these will inform you about retrofitting techniques and help you decide which is best for you.
NATURAL AND BENEFICIAL FUNCTIONS
Ouachita Parish is a beautiful place to live. The undisturbed marshes and wetlands provide a wide range of benefits to the human and natural systems. They provide flood storage and conveyance, reduce flood velocities, and flood peaks. Water quality is improved through the marshes’ and wetlands’ ability to filter nutrients and impurities from runoff and process organic wastes. The local marshes and wetlands provide breeding and feeding grounds for fish and wildlife, create and enhance waterfowl habitat, and protect habitats for rare and endangered species. The floodplains are an important asset. They provide open space, aesthetic pleasure, and areas for active and passive uses.
FLOOD WARNING SYSTEM
Should a flood occur and evacuations be advised, Ouachita Parish will notify you through radio, cable TV, and Ouachita Parish’s Office of Emergency Preparedness. Also, the NOAA Weather Station Radio broadcasts weather information 24 hours a day from the National Weather Service Offices in Shreveport, Louisiana. Please call the Ouachita Parish Building Permit Office at (318) 398-9780 or the Ouachita Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness at (318)322-2641 in reference to evacuation notices and procedures, and information for and location of shelters.
FLOODPLAIN DEVELOPMENT PERMIT REQUIREMENTS
All development in Ouachita Parish needs local and state permits. Contact the Ouachita Parish Building Permit Office at (318) 398-9780 for advice before you build, fill, place a manufactured home, or otherwise develop. The zoning ordinance, flood control ordinance, and the International Building Codes have special provisions regulating construction and other developments within floodplains. Without those provisions, flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) would not be available to property owners in the unincorporated areas of Ouachita Parish. Any development in the floodplain without a permit is illegal; such activity can be reported to the Ouachita Parish Building Permit Office at 1650 DeSiard Street, Suite 202, Monroe, Louisiana, or by calling (318) 398-9780.
SUBSTANTIAL IMPROVEMENT REQUIREMENTS
What is a substantial improvement? The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requires that any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvement of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50% of the market value of the structure before the start of construction of the improvement, must conform or meet the same construction requirements as a new building and be constructed above the minimum Base Flood Elevation (BFE) listed on Ouachita Parish’s Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM).
What is substantial damage? Substantial damage means damage of any origin sustained by a building or structure when the cost of restoring the building to its pre-damaged condition would equal or exceed 50% of the market value of the building before the damage occurred. Substantial damage is determined regardless of the actual repair work performed.
Ouachita Parish requires by ordinance that any substantial improvement or substantial damage improvement must have a building permit. Permit information can be obtained at the Building Department Office, 1650 DeSiard Street, Suite 202, Monroe, Louisiana or by calling at (318) 398-9780.
DRAINAGE SYSTEM MAINTENANCE
It is illegal in Ouachita Parish to dump any type of debris into a canal, stream, river, or drainage ditch with the city limits. This debris can become entangled in culverts and shallow streambeds, canals, or drainage ditches and reduces drainage causing the flow of water to back up. Citizens of Ouachita Parish should also keep drainage ditches on their property free of debris, foliage, and vegetation that would impede the flow of water. Debris dumping should be reported to the Ouachita Parish’s Public Works Department or by calling (318) 387-2383.
Citizens of Ouachita Parish can obtain information concerning flooding, flood maps, mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements, flood insurance requirements and inquiries, and flood zone determinations from the Ouachita Parish Building Permit Office located at 1650 DeSiard Street, Suite 202, Monroe, Louisiana, or by calling (318) 398-9870.
Elevation Certificates of all construction since December 15, 2001 in the Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) are available and on file at the Ouachita Parish Building Permit Office. Copies can be made for the citizens’ of Ouachita Parish needs.
Real time river gauge information can be obtained through the following websites:
FLOOD PROTECTION ASSISTANCE
Concerned citizens and the general public can get information on flood protection assistance from the Ouachita Parish Building Permit Office or the Ouachita Parish Department of Public Works by calling (318) 398-9870 or 387-2383. Flood protection assistance provided by Ouachita Parish is site-specific flood and flood related data, data on historical flooding in the neighborhood, or similar information so inquiries can relate the flood threat to their problems.
List of Services Provided:
- Provide a list of names of contractors and consultants knowledgeable or experienced in retrofitting techniques and construction.
- Provide materials on how to select a qualified contractor and what recourse citizens have if they are dissatisfied with the contractor’s performance.
- Make site visits to review flooding, drainage, and sewer problems and providing one-on-one advice to property owners.
- Provide advice and assistance on retrofitting techniques such as elevating buildings above flood levels or the BFE, dry floodproofing, wet floodproofing, and protecting basements from sewer backup, and also information on the installation of barriers, levees, berms, and floodwalls around individual buildings or structures.