City of Central approves flood map study

CENTRAL, LA (WAFB) - Nearly 1,700 homes in the City of Central found themselves in the flood zone when the latest elevation maps came out four years ago, causing many to pay higher insurance costs that they may not have been required to pay; but now officials have decided to hire someone so the situation may be fixed.

"A neighbor built up like three feet because of mapping issues, so he wouldn't have to have flood insurance," said Kathi Cowen, the former Flood Plain Manager for the City of Central. She says in one neighborhood some homes have been built up, while others are build low to the ground. Cowen says it's the result of inaccurate flood maps.

An area known as Beaver Bayou, she says, has not had a detailed flood study done since 1982. Something officials believe FEMA should have done, before issuing the new flood maps and changing people's insurance ratings.

"Since then, there's been two new bridges," said Cowen. "No telling what else changed."

However the area between Beaver Bayou and the Denham Springs watershed is where the disputed information is causing the biggest problems. Cowen says that area has never been studied.

Using the 1982 data, FEMA assigned the area as flood zone A. So when the 2008 maps came out, a majority of homeowners in the area who never paid flood insurance suddenly found themselves dishing out more than one thousand dollars for insurance.

"An insurance agent actually stood up at our meeting and had cases where peoples insurance gone from $200 to $1000."

She says because no more detailed study had been done here in 20 years, Central will now hire an engineer to go out and determine the accurate flood elevation levels. Many homeowners hope that will result a fair elevation reading for them as well as lower insurance rates.

Some of the homes could be taken out of that zone A, but go into a zone AE. Even that would mean savings - from paying one thousand dollars for flood insurance to just over six hundred dollars.

Copyright 2012 WAFB. All rights reserved.